Da best kinda advertising: woid of mout’
In 2015, some 42 million people visited Las Vegas; over 15 million were aged fifty-plus.
There was plenty of open desert along the Strip back then. Most of the empty space between casinos was home to tumbleweed, blowing sand, dust and drab low-rise strip malls.
Even so, ’70s Vegas was way more colorful than today’s formulaic corporate glitz.
Legendary billionaire recluse Howard Hughes lived on the top floor of the Desert Inn, a James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever, starring Sean Connery – the Boomers’ real 007 – was shot downtown, Elvis headlined at the International and Sinatra’s Rat Pack had the run of the place.
For added – and unique – color, Vegas was reputed to be a well-organized family town … organized, family about covers it. Capiche?
This was the way things were when your humble scribe’s first employer, the biggest ad agency in LA, decided to pitch the account of a major Las Vegas casino.
The agency president and his team arrived around noon and were ushered into the main man’s office where, behind the desk, a pair of trousers hung over the back of a leather chair. When the head honcho arrived, wearing a silk robe above black socks – no pants, no shoes – he looked at the assembled LA suits with disdain.
“Who dese guys?”
A nervous sidekick explained they were here to ask for the casino’s advertising business: “Y’know da best kinda advertising? Woid of mout’ – get ’em outa here.”
Luckily, in those days, traffic was light – McCarran Field was only ten minutes away. The LA suits made it in less than four.
Las Vegas has come a long way since then. And give credit to those visionary wiseguys of the forties, fifties and sixties. Without them, it might still be just a lonely desert pit-stop on the long, long drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Instead, since 1970 the city has evolved in ways its founders could scarcely have imagined.
- Population: 1970 277,230 ♠ 2013 2,027,828
- Visitors: 1970 6.8 million ♠ 2015 42.3 million
- Hotel/motel rooms: 1970 25,430 ♠ 2015 149,213
- Conventions: 1970 296 ♠ 2015 21,306
- Air arrivals: 1970 4.1 million ♠ 2015 45.4 million
- Gambling revenues: 1970 $369M ♠ 2015 $9.6B
- (Data: Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority)
Las Vegas hits the jackpot with Boomers
Pretty much everyone who gambles has a sure-fire system for beating the odds. There’s a “lucky” slot machine out there somewhere. Pile your chips on black. Or red. Whatever.
The Madison Avenue Casino operates much the same way. Its sure-fire 1970-era system still tells brands today to put all their money on the 18-49 demo – don’t waste it on Boomers!
It’s like playing roulette where bets are not allowed on half the wheel – with the most profitable numbers off limits.
In fact, brands can learn much from Vegas about winning in the real world – starting with a 3,600 respondent survey (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Visitor Profile, 2014).
But what smart analysis ever stopped at the surface?
Drilling down, Boomer-Plus visitors are actually the most valuable: they visit more often and stay longer. Over the 5-year period 2010-2014 they accounted for almost half (47%) of all visitor expenditures.
Full disclosure: the study draws a discreet veil over how much each generation “spent” on gambling. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But total per capita spending by Boomer-Plus on lodging, food, drink, entertainment, shopping and local transportation for 2010 through 2014 is awesome:
- Seniors: $5,600 … Index vs. all-visitor average: 106
- Boomers: $7,000 … Index vs. all-visitor average: 134
- Gen X: $4,900 … Index vs. all-visitor average: 93
- Millennials: $3,700 … Index vs. all-visitor average: 71
Bottom line: people over fifty contribute about half of all Las Vegas visitor revenue. No coincidence, that is the same share of revenue they account for in practically all grown-up product categories – cars to CPGs to consumer electronics.
The disruptive lesson for all brands and advertisers is to drop 1970s thinking and take the 50+ demographic seriously. It’s good business and it’s a smart play.
We can help you place your bets – and, yes, we do have a sure-fire winning system.