Atlantic City marketers turn to ads to counter bad casino news

08/14/2014 11:07 AM

08/14/2014 1:41 PM

Absorbing wave upon wave of bad news about the resort town they are paid to promote, Atlantic City’s beleaguered marketers have reached into their quiver to fire back.

“Atlantic City responds to negative press with what else, an ad,” is how Jeff Guaracino, chief strategist and communications officer with the Atlantic City Alliance put it Wednesday, a day after the stunned town absorbed the blow of the announcement that the big glass ball-topped Revel would be closing Sept. 10.

It is what this reeling resort has always done in times of crisis: turned to a standing army of promoters to double down on the marketing. Miss America herself was born of a way to get people to visit post Labor Day.

The Alliance, the modern day Boardwalk barkers created by state law and funded by casinos, is placing full page ads in The Wall Street Journal, the Star-Ledger and the Philadelphia Inquirer to “combat the misconception that the declining of gaming revenue could mean that people are not visiting,” Guaracino says.

“In fact, we are hearing very strong summer hotel occupancies exceeding 95 percent and double digit growth for non-casino hotel properties,” he said. The Alliance created the “DoAC” campaign.

The full page ads show a massive crowd shot from the Lady Antebellum beach concert earlier this month – attended by about 60,000 – with the slogan: “We have something for everyone. No wonder everyone’s here.”

The week meanwhile continued in a head-spinning fashion, with the Revel news followed by the annual Thunder Over the Boardwalk Airshow, which brought hundreds of thousands of people to town.

Some tried to rally the troops, especially the 3,000 employees who will lose their jobs at Revel: Tony Baloney’s, a sandwich place near Revel that has gotten itself nothing but good publicity in its short life, offered a free slice of pizza to Revel employees and urged on Twitter: “Keep heads up & stay positive. In it 2gether.”

Even within the broke Revel, unable to muster enough cash flow to stay open as it lurches through bankruptcy, the unique conundrum of the town could be seen. Revels’ restaurants, owned by Jose Garces and others, and its nightclubs, HQ and the Beach Club, managed by Angel Management Group, and Ivan Kane’s Burlesque club, have all been successful, despite being located in what has became a casino corpse.

HQ was among the top 100 grossing nightclubs in the country and has a top lineup of disk jockeys scheduled through Labor Day.

Guaracino said the bad news for the town had not left the Alliance discouraged. “We’re even more invigorated,” he said. “It’s worth fighting for.”

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