Atlantic City's New Branding Campaign

In the face of increased gambling competition in neighboring states, the city is seeking to brand itself as more than just a gaming destination.
April 10, 2013

By Suzette Parmley

Despite gaming revenue's precipitous decline at Atlantic City's casinos in the last six years, glamorous images of gamblers at poker and blackjack tables will be included in the 2013 campaign of the Atlantic City Alliance, which is charged with rebranding the Shore town and its new tourism district.

The addition of gaming ads -- one titled, "Your Tables Are Ready"; another, "Bring Your Game Face and Your Poker Face" -- is a shift from last year's inaugural campaign. The alliance works in partnership with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and was created as part of Gov. Christie's five-year revitalization plan for the ailing resort.

The ads also are timely -- Maryland's three casinos will be adding table games starting Thursday.

"Last year, we famously omitted gaming," said alliance president Liza Cartmell, who previewed two of the new TV commercials Tuesday at the Hotel Monaco in Center City. "Now, we are reinserting it.

"Gaming is an attraction -- one of the things we offer," Cartmell said. "We can't miss out on a very huge, significant market. There are new gamers out there."

The new TV ads with this year's theme, "Do AC Now," will start airing Monday, and new billboards (on the Vine Street Expressway, I-76, and I-95) and print ads will be unveiled in the alliance's target cities: Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore.

The $20 million campaign's official name remains "Do Anything, Do Everything, Do AC."

Cartmell focused on what's in store at the Shore for the summer and the rest of the year, post-Hurricane Sandy. She said the storm forced the alliance to devote marketing dollars to alter the perception that the Boardwalk had been wiped out.

Among events that Atlantic City will host this year:

A Boardwalk Wine Promenade, May 4-5;

The World Championship of Sand Sculpting, June 13-30;

The Atlantic City Offshore Grand Prix, June 23;

And the big one, returning after leaving for Las Vegas -- the Miss America Pageant and its festivities -- Sept. 3-15.

Cartmell touted some 2012 successes. Three key metrics were up year-over-year from 2011, she said: casino parking fees (up 1.2 percent); hotel-occupancy fees (up 14.8 percent), and luxury-tax revenue from liquor and entertainment tickets (up 13 percent).

The resort needs all the help it can get. Last week, two rating agencies -- Standard & Poor's and Moody's -- gave Atlantic City a negative outlook due to increasing competition in Pennsylvania, New York and other states; declining gambling revenue; a still sluggish local economy; Revel's recent bankruptcy filing; and continued devaluations of Atlantic City's existing casinos.

Other tourism indicators don't bode well, either. Data from the South Jersey Transportation Authority for 2012 showed a 2 percent decline in car visits (via the Pleasantville Plaza tolls), a 22 percent decline in casino-bound bus passengers, and a 5.4 percent decline in rail passengers since 2005.

(c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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