Donna and Jack Cashion walked out of the Atlantic City Expressway visitor center on their way into the city Sunday with a new DO AC car magnet.
Donna Cashion carried the magnet in a little gift bag also marked with the DO AC logo — and with that same circular logo on the Atlantic City map and guidebook that will help them find their way around on their first trip to the city.
Until last month, the Fayetteville, Texas, couple could have picked up their magnet for free. Because from April until then, the Atlantic City Alliance — the casino-funded group behind the DO AC marketing campaign — was giving them away as fast as possible, to spread its message around the Atlantic City area and beyond.
But the 5.5-inch car markers got so popular, the Alliance has started selling them at $1 apiece, plus tax.
“The demand is very high,” said Jeff Guaracino, an Alliance spokesman. “We’re at 130,000 magnets” in circulation, and counting.
“We’re getting requests for blocks of magnets, for people to use as wedding favors,” Guaracino added. “We’re getting requests from employers, for them to give out to their people.”
The Alliance is still giving some magnets away at special events in and around the city, including last weekend’s Atlantic City Seafood Festival. And the vast majority on cars these days were freebies — since the agency started charging for them Aug. 21, it has sold just about 800 at two Atlantic City visitor centers, Guaracino said.
But they’re proving popular enough as sale items that by next month, the Alliance plans to start letting casino gift shops and other retail outlets sell them. The agency was getting requests as far back as June from stores that wanted to sell the magnets and get in on a hot product.
Plus, those car magnets were just the start of a crop of items showing off the DO AC message. Pat Donnelly, the manager at the expressway visitor center, pointed Sunday to shelves and wall space showing off travel mugs, beach bags, shot glasses, teaspoons, refrigerator magnets, hair brushes and umbrellas for sale — all showing off the popular logo.
The car magnets are by far the hit of the product line, though.
“The Boardwalk (visitor center) called us,” Donnelly said. “They sold out, and they wanted some more over there.”
Mary Ann Dougherty, who was working with Donnelly on Sunday, said she has seen the circles sell in bulk.
“We’ve had brides coming in for their bachelorette parties,” she said, and then there was the older gentleman who was happy to lay out cash for eight of them.
“He just wanted to give them to his friends,” Dougherty said. “They used to come to Atlantic City all the time, but they’re older now and he wanted to give them something to remember Atlantic City with.”
The Cashions got their magnet after explaining why they chose to do Atlantic City — among other South Jersey spots — to celebrate their 40th anniversary.
They left Fayetteville — “Population 261,” Donna said — on Saturday to fly from Houston to Philadelphia, then drove to Atlantic City on Sunday morning. It’s their first time in town, but they plan to spend a week here.
They enjoy gambling while they’re traveling, and their son offered to send them wherever they wanted to go. They wanted Atlantic City.
“So this is all on him,” Donna Cashion said with a big smile. “He’s good.”
But the enthusiastic visitors might find what a fair amount of locals have found already. Those DO AC magnets aren’t just popular with people who want to show off their Atlantic City loyalty or memories. They’re also popular with people who like to steal car magnets.
Guaracino said the Alliance has heard “multiple” stories about magnets disappearing from their former owners’ vehicles.
“Stealing is wrong, and borrowing without permission is wrong,” he said, stating the official position of the Atlantic City Alliance — among other noted authorities. “Regardless of religion, I think that’s just not nice. But that has not been an unusual story.”
Still, the people behind the marketing campaign are thrilled that its most visible symbol is such a hot commodity.
“It was initially designed just as part of the launch (of the advertising), not to be ongoing,” Guaracino said. “But people saw themselves in the campaign. They see themselves as part of it, as someone who lives and works here, or someone who’s promoting (Atlantic City). People are saying, ‘I’m AC.’ ... They're spreading the love, which is good.”
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