Normally, this is the time of year when the tourists scatter and the beaches and Boardwalk become much quieter.
But a new advertising campaign wants visitors to know that even though it is no longer summer, there are still plenty of things to “Do” around here.
Print ads, a 30-second TV commercial and radio spots portraying Atlantic City as an exciting, off-season getaway were launched Monday in major markets across the Northeast.
Following up on its $20 million “Do AC” advertising blitz over the spring and summer, the Atlantic City Alliance is spending $6 million to promote the town this fall as a place to “Do Change.”
“I think this is a place to visit to sort of rev up and have a lot of social interaction. It’s also a place to relax and chill,” said Liza Cartmell, president of the alliance, a casino-funded marketing coalition.
Print ads depict young, attractive people enjoying drinks, dinner, shopping and riding bikes on the Boardwalk. In one ad, three women are hitting the stores under the headline, “It’s not holiday shopping. It’s a shopping holiday.”
Another print ad features two men sharing a meal under the headline, “Do fall. Do falling in love again.” It will run in a gay publication in hopes of drawing more gay travelers to Atlantic City.
Jeff Guaracino, a spokesman for the Atlantic City Alliance, noted that the gay travel market is worth an estimated $64 billion annually. The alliance’s gay-themed ad is an extension of the marketing efforts that some casinos already do to attract gay and lesbian travelers, he said.
Overall, the ad campaign emphasizes a series of fall-oriented attractions to entice visitors who might not otherwise consider Atlantic City as a post-summer tourist destination.
“We are trying to extend the season with these ads,” Cartmell explained. “It’s not necessarily bikini weather, but people can still have a nice time on the beach and in other areas.”
A centerpiece of the campaign is a TV commercial choreographed to high-energy music. It begins with a couple taking a leisurely arm-in-arm stroll on the beach. The next scene explodes with a fireworks display above a Ferris wheel. What follows are some fast-paced sequences of people having fun on the beach and Boardwalk, although they are bundled in warm clothing. The action also heads indoors for upscale dining, spa treatments, some nightclubbing and a couple cavorting in a hot tub.
The “Do” theme is emphasized throughout the TV spot. “Do a change of pace. Do a change of clothes. Do a change of scenery,” the ad says invitingly.
Guaracino said Atlantic City will have the advantage of running its TV commercial at a time when many competing tourist destinations are not broadcasting any ads.
Unlike the first set of “Do AC” ads, the alliance decided to give a glimpse of some casino action for the new advertising campaign. The spring and summer ads deliberately excluded any images of slot machines or table games to instead focus on the city’s nongambling tourist attractions. But in the latest TV commercial, there are two brief scenes of the casino floor at Revel, the newly opened $2.4 billion megaresort.
Cartmell stressed that the casino scenes are “not a highlight,” but simply show one of the indoor activities that visitors can enjoy during the off-season.
Although the ad campaign will be splashed throughout the Northeast, the primary markets are Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. As it did with the first “Do AC” campaign, the alliance is again looking to tap major cities within an easy drive of Atlantic City.
Led by the alliance’s marketing and publicity efforts, Atlantic City is trying to reverse a decline in visitors caused by the sluggish economy and competition from casinos in surrounding states. After peaking at about 35 million in 2006, the number of visitor trips has been sliding ever since, to less than 30 million annually.
The fall advertising campaign also is designed to increase tourism and business during the traditionally slower midweek period. Atlantic City’s hotel occupancy normally is strong during the summer, but dips during the off-season, particularly during midweek, forcing casinos and noncasino hotels to deeply discount their guest rooms.
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