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Chris Jones

Official Fights Playboy-Linked Event Funding

10 March 2004

Las Vegas' sometimes uneasy relationship with sexually themed marketing renewed again Tuesday when Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates challenged a plan to spend local tourism funds to promote a pair of events linked with Playboy magazine.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board was set to vote on a proposal to sponsor a $73,400 client party at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., when Atkinson Gates spoke out.

"I don't understand why we would want to host another event at the Playboy Mansion," Atkinson Gates. "I don't like it, don't support it and think it's a waste of money."

Terry Jicinsky, the convention authority's senior vice president of marketing, explained that the planned 200-person, invitation-only event would likely attract some of the city's best clients from the Southern California area and would thereby produce more visitor traffic for Las Vegas.

Jicinsky's comments were supported by Manny Cortez, the convention authority's president and chief executive officer, who said Playboy's typical readers fit a demographic profile the city is strongly pursuing: younger males with high disposable income levels.

Despite Atkinson Gates' objections, the request was approved by a 10-2 vote. North Las Vegas Mayor and board member Michael Montandon cast the second dissenting vote.

Barring any unexpected changes, the party will take place April 30. The convention authority sponsored a similar event with Playboy last year.

Atkinson Gates later raised additional questions about a $60,000 proposal to support a client event at the Playboy Jazz Festival, scheduled for June 19-20 at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl. Following more discussion, the commissioner backed off her objections and the request was approved unanimously.

In other business Tuesday, the convention authority board:

Approved a request to contribute $700,000 toward the costs of a planned Public Broadcasting Service television documentary on the history of Las Vegas.

Following a brief video presentation and comments from director Stephen Ives, whose New York-based Insignia Films plans to produce the three-hour series, the board voted 12-0 to support the project.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to tell a good story," said board member Don Snyder.

PBS's look at Las Vegas is scheduled to air in fall 2005 as part of its acclaimed "American Experience" series.

Named Travel Pie, a 7-year-old company based in Mexico City, as the convention authority's foreign representation office in Mexico effective April 1.

The authority awarded the company a $255,000 contract in exchange for marketing Las Vegas in Mexico through June 30, 2005.

Reached an agreement with Minneapolis-based Wireless Ronin Technologies to place interactive video signs at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Plans call for an initial roll-out of a dozen such devices in high-traffic areas of the center. The video screens would largely direct conventioneers to certain areas within the building and provide more detailed information once they've arrived. The signs would also be used for advertising.

Wireless Ronin would provide the equipment at no cost in exchange for exposure and limited advertising opportunities, said Jim Gans, senior vice president of operations for the convention authority. Programming and training expenses will cost the convention authority an estimated $30,000 its first year and $25,000 in years to come.