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City of Dreams Opens in Macau Despite Gaming-Revenue Decline

With Massive Ad Campaign by Omnicom Group, Melco Hopes to Lure Visitors Back to the Chinese Territory

By Published on .

City of Dreams will house a 420,000-square-foot casino with about 520 gaming tables and about 1,350 gaming machines
City of Dreams will house a 420,000-square-foot casino with about 520 gaming tables and about 1,350 gaming machines
MACAU (AdAgeChina.com) -- While the timing may seem unlucky, Melco Crown Entertainment is capitalizing on Macau's reputation for creating fortunes and opportunities by opening an enormous leisure-and-entertainment complex called City of Dreams. Macau, known as the Las Vegas of Asia, is the world's biggest gambling hub in terms of revenue.

The complex will house three hotel brands, Grand Hyatt, Crown Towers and Hard Rock, as well as a 420,000-square-foot casino with about 520 gaming tables and about 1,350 gaming machines, a large dome-shaped theater called The Bubble.

Another section, The Boulevard, is a shopping, entertainment and dining zone with over 20 restaurants and bars in 85,000 square-feet of retail space. Brands on sale in the first phase include Bally, Burberry, Coach, Dunhill, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Vivienne Westwood, Cartier, Chopard, Rolex, and Tag Heuer.

Melco is promoting the massive complex with an appropriately out-sized marketing platform pulled together by several Omnicom Group divisions -- DDB Worldwide, Tribal DDB, PHD and Fleishman Hillard. The agencies began strategic-channel planning for the complex in June 2008.

City of Dreams is "a world-class entertainment destination," said Richard Thomas, president and CEO of DDB, Hong Kong.

But will the world come?

PHD Managing Director Ray Wong in Hong Kong acknowledged the City of Dreams is opening in a tough climate. "Given the current economic environment, our main focus is to add value and help our client navigate business challenges and maximize their media budget."

Local media in Macau report that the territory's gaming revenues dropped 8.5% year-on-year last month to just above $1 billion. In March 2009, they fell 13%, and in the first four months of this year overall, gaming revenues dropped 12%. Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho has a 31% share of all gaming revenues in Macau, followed by the Las Vegas Sands with 26%, according to Casino City, an independent information service located in Boston, Mass. Wynn ranks third with 13.5%, while MGM Grand Macau has an 8% share.

Rapid development of new casinos by global operators, namely Wynn Resorts and The Las Vegas Sands, have created intense competition just as Asians have started traveling and spending less.

The Las Vegas Sands, controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, said earlier this month it plans to cut as many as 4,000 jobs in Macau by September to cut costs. The Sands opened the Venetian Macau, the biggest casino resort in Asia, in August 2007, but stopped work last year on its $12 billion, 20,000-room complex of hotels and casinos next door on Macau's Cotai Strip, a strip of reclaimed between two islands, Taipa and Coloane.

The global recession isn't the only thing that has put the brakes on explosive growth in past years. Earlier this year, the Chinese government tightened travel restrictions to the former Portuguese enclave, the only place in China where casinos are legal.

Melco has adopted a poker face, however. Executives there say City of Dreams, which is also located in Cotai, will increase Macau's revenues further and help develop the territory as an all-around destination. The development's marketing campaign will break on May 21, just days ahead of the June 1, 2009 launch of the first phase of the complex.

The multidimensional campaign will run in above-the-line media, namely TV and out-of-home ads on branded buses and taxis in Macau, as well as a a web site, , online advertising, promotions, public relations, trade and loyalty programs that will run through the end of the year. DDB also put together a brand team to deliver name generation, logo development and collateral design for a variety of the restaurants and bars.

The launch commercial was shot by Philipp St�lzl, a German director best known for music videos for singers such as Madonna. Since the spot was created before the complex was completed, six studio sets were built to replicate the ambiance of City of Dreams and recreate the extensive interiors of the complex. The undertaking required hundreds of extras, underwater cameras, dancers and gymnasts and special effects crews.

The ad campaign created by DDB, Hong Kong will run across all media including ads on branded taxis
The ad campaign created by DDB, Hong Kong will run across all media including ads on branded taxis

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