ATLANTIC CITY — The marketing group that created the “Do AC” campaign wants to start giving visitors more specific reasons to “do” just that.
Nearly half of the group’s advertising budget will push specific events, compared with last year, when only 8 percent of the Atlantic City Alliance’s annual advertising budget was used for that purpose.
To demonstrate the strategic change, the alliance announced Thursday that it will fund a free midweek beach concert July 31 with country music superstar Blake Shelton. Organizers are hoping that Shelton, who’s also known for his role as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice” could draw as many as 200,000 people to the resort for the Thursday night concert.
The alliance has sponsored a number of other events since the campaign launched in 2012, but many of those events have been held on weekends when the resort typically sees more visitors. Shelton’s appearance will be on a Thursday, ACA President Liza Cartmell said, adding that the casino interests represented on ACA’s board believe the country singer is well-known enough to draw an audience midweek.
“To go for midweek, you have to get something so special that people will be willing to maybe take a day off from work and extend a weekend,” Cartmell said. “You can’t just throw money at things and not think about the result.”
Alliance officials said they’ve been working for months to secure Shelton’s appearance and are hoping that other summer entertainment announcements might follow as pitches have already been made to other artists. That would allow the alliance to make better use of the temporary outdoor stage it will pay to construct next to The Pier at Caesars, Cartmell said.
With 47 percent of the alliance’s 2014 advertising budget devoted to specific events, the group will be promoting draws such as the Challenge Triathlon, the first Challenge event to be held in the U.S., the July 4th fireworks and the Atlantic City Airshow.
“It’s amazing how many people in Philadelphia still don’t know about the airshow. That’s something we have to do a better job with,” Cartmell said.
The airshow is also a free event that draws large crowds to Atlantic City’s beaches.
Shelton’s concert will feature a premiere viewing area closest to the stage that can accommodate roughly 60,000 ticketed people, but those tickets will be free.
That will allow the alliance to accurately gauge at least part of the crowd.
The alliance has also partnered with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to launch a new mobile-compatible website. In keeping with the push for specific events, the new website includes a carousel of upcoming entertainment in the city, the group announced in an overview of its summer campaign at a Greater Atlantic City Chamber breakfast at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.
The alliance also released a report Thursday, analyzing the effects of its 2013 campaign. In a poll of 3,600 people from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., 54 percent said they would recommend visiting Atlantic City to others. That’s a 17 percent increase from the previous year.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they intend to visit Atlantic City, a 21 percent increase from 2012 survey results.
The resort continues to struggle in perceptions of cleanliness and safety. Twenty-five percent of respondents said Atlantic City is a very clean place to visit, and 28 percent described Atlantic City as safe. Those are 9 percent and 8 percent increases respectively over the previous year’s results.
“Clean and safe are hard things to talk about in marketing without making it sound like it's an issue,” Cartmell said.