WILDWOOD — Do what?
The question just about sums up Patrick Rosenello’s reaction Thursday morning when he learned that Wildwood’s neighbor to the north — Atlantic City — will use the slogan “Do AC!” as part of its new marketing campaign.
“It’s shocking,” said Rosenello, executive director for the Wildwoods’ Downtown Business Improvement District and Boardwalk Special Improvement District.
The two districts, a collection of business owners in the downtown and on the Boardwalk, have been using the theme “Do Wildwood” since 2007 when they launched a website urging visitors to the Jersey Shore to include Five Mile Beach in their travel plans.
The website, www.dowildwood.com, is the heart of the campaign and it appears on a variety of advertising, from trolley maps and banners that line Pacific Avenue to signs on the sides of the famous Boardwalk tram cars.
“Do Wildwood,” Rosenello said, was the product of a discussion years ago when a group of business owners sat around a table and talked about the need for a slogan.
There were other options, such as “Go Wildwood,” but “Do Wildwood” seemed to fit the way people talk.
“People say, ‘Let’s do Wildwood’ or ‘Let’s do the Boardwalk,’” Rosenello said.
In contrast, “Do AC!” comes as part of a major marketing effort developed by the Atlantic City Alliance and its public relations firm, Edelman Media Relations.
Alliance President Liza Cartmell was not available for comment Thursday, but Edelman issued a statement Thursday afternoon regarding the campaign.
“We are still in the middle of producing a large-scale advertising campaign that will include multiple broadcast, print, out-of-home and digital elements. As we shared earlier this week, we are currently filming TV spots in Atlantic City, so we’re glad to know there is so much excitement around the effort,” the statement read.
The statement continued, “The campaign is multifaceted, and will highlight the many activities that make Atlantic City great, from fine dining to boardwalk snacking, to free music on the beach, to world-class entertainment at our resorts. The campaign does include a call to action that our research found resonates with consumers as we work to rebuild visitation to the area, but it is only one part of a larger media effort that we will be prepared to share in much greater detail in mid-April.”
The Press of Atlantic City reported Thursday that Caesars Entertainment Eastern Division President Don Marrandino told company employees, in a letter, that the slogan was backed by a $30 million investment.
Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, president of Suasion Communications Group in Egg Harbor Township, has worked on behalf of Wildwoods-based agencies and companies, but she didn’t comment on the two slogans and their similarities.
Jeff Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, also said he couldn’t comment on the Wildwoods’ slogan.
“This is a moral, ethical and political issue,” Rosenello said. “You can’t have a taxpayer-funded agency stealing slogans and using it without saying how do we make this right.”
But Rosenello stressed he isn’t looking to stop Atlantic City from using the “Do AC” phrase. Instead, he suggests the two towns join forces, making use of the Atlantic City Alliance’s much larger budget.
The downtown district has a $30,000 advertising, compared to $30 million the Atlantic City Alliance is using to market the city and the slogan.
“We’re honored and thrilled that they thought so much of it,” Rosenello said.
Rosenello does think a slogan can be an important part of a community’s identity.
The “do,” he pointed out, is sometimes spelled “doo” as a nod to the island’s doo-wop architecture which — along with the Boardwalk and tram cars — is another symbol of the Wildwoods.
Towns across the country, from Dumas, Ark., to Las Vegas, make use of slogans, taglines and other phrases designed to leave an impression on visitors.
And they say the slogan, while only a part of the overall brand, does matter.
Dumas, not far from the Arkansas River, is known as the “Home of the Ding Dong Daddy,” said Sammye Owen, executive director of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s very much identified with us,” Owen said, noting that the phrase comes from a song about Dumas. “If people hear ding dong daddy, they say that’s from Dumas.”
The town even has an annual Ding Dong Days Festival.
“It really brings a lot of interest to the town,” Owen said.
On a larger scale, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” has brought the same recognition to Las Vegas.
“We’re very proud of that. It is iconic and it’s become part of the popular lexicon,” said Kevin Bagger, senior director of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
He said the slogan sums up the essence of the Las Vegas brand of “adult freedom,” a phrase that can mean different things to different visitors.
Bagger said the authority started using the “What happens in Vegas” line in 2003 and has used other slogans over the years, but the popular phrase remains one that many identify with the town.
“There’s definitely still power in that campaign and the tag line,” Bagger said.
Contact Trudi Gilfillian: