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Best of Chris Sieroty
Chris Sieroty

Nevadan at Work: Cosmo exec crafts catchy slogan, edgy TV ads

12 November 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Lisa Marchese's wanderlust has taken her to practically every corner of the globe, but she chose Las Vegas as her home to pursue what she calls "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" - the role of chief marketing officer for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Marchese never expected a career in the gaming and hospitality business, much less overseeing the marketing of a new $3.9 billion hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

She planned to join the Foreign Service after earning her degree with honors in international relations from Roanoke College in Salem, Va. She moved to New York City to pursue her dream, but after a year at the United Nations, she wanted to try something different.

From there, Marchese ventured into advertising. During her career at Grey Advertising, the Internet was beginning to take over the world, and she was responsible for leading the agency's young and fledgling interactive team. Marchese quickly realized her passion and specialty was brand strategy: influencing the way consumers connect with a company.

That passion for marketing has helped position The Cosmopolitan as the resort to watch with its advertising campaign - "Just the Right Amount of Wrong."

The campaign has earned The Cosmopolitan several national advertising awards, with commercials running during the Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards, and print ads appearing in print and online in a number of publications, including Esquire magazine.

The Cosmopolitan picked up a Clio Award earlier this year for its third commercial that depicted a showdown between two men fighting over the same woman, set to the spoken lyrics of the Queen hit "Bohemian Rhapsody."

But Marchese's job is more than advertising.

"Essentially, anything that touches the guest: from advertising in their hometown, to direct mail in their mailbox, the entertainment you watch at Boulevard Pool, the artist in P3 Studio, the music in the elevators, the digital columns, the articles you read about the restaurant collection, the overall ambience and experience through to the feeling you leave with," Marchese said.

Marchese's first taste of the gaming business was as a marketing consultant for Caesars Entertainment Corp. She was later hired by the company full time. She originally moved to Las Vegas to turn around the Caesars brand.

At Caesars she met John Unwin - the future CEO of The Cosmopolitan.

Question: Why take the job as The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' chief marketing officer?

Answer: From a personal career standpoint, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to launch a brand from scratch. Additionally, there was a real opportunity to bring a modern point of view, a more urban perspective to Las Vegas.

Question: Why take the risk?

Answer: On some level, why not? But I knew (Cosmopolitan CEO) John (Unwin) and I had a lot of the same perspective on what could be different, unique and ultimately, evolve the market. We both wanted to swing for the fences.

Question: What are the challenges of marketing a 2-year-old Strip casino?

Answer: The challenges are different than I anticipated. We still feel new, we constantly reinvent parts and pieces of the experience such as the P3 Studio artist-in-residency program, the entertainment program, the marketing campaigns, etcetera. The challenges seem to center on ensuring our team stays fresh, doesn't get too comfortable with where we are and continues to forge ahead of the rest of the market. There are a lot of fast-follower competitors who have adopted some of our best ideas; we have to come up with new ones.

Question: The Cosmopolitan is well-known for its commercials. How do you come up with the ideas and who makes the final decision on the idea and content?

Answer: It's a labor of love for everyone who is involved. The effort is a collaboration between our internal team and our agency partners. There is a lot of debate, differing perspectives and creative tension. Yet we all believe that as an independent brand it's absolutely critical that we break through to our target guest. Our work needs to be more provocative, more memorable and really pique curiosity of those that see it. Our approach of taking creative risks in this category has paid off, helping us to achieve market leading occupancy and ADR versus the competitive set.

Question: What is The Cosmopolitan's position in the Las Vegas marketplace?

Answer: I believe we are reinventing luxury in Las Vegas. It is more contemporary, quirky and informed by urban culture. Our goal is to pique our guests' sense of curiosity, discovery and leave them with something they want to tell their friends and family about.

Question: Have the ads paid dividends?

Answer: Yes, they have paid off for us. Really, we feel like the advertising has helped us to establish and own a distinctive position in the market, which is brought to life once guests experience the resort.

Question: How is marketing a casino different from working for an agency developing brand strategies for clients? Is it easier with only one client?

Answer: At The Cosmopolitan, I believe so strongly in what we are doing from the big choices to the small ones. When things go well, I am thrilled and not surprisingly, feel the shortfalls just as acutely. While I certainly was passionate about my clients' businesses in the past, The Cosmopolitan is unique. When you spend your days and nights in one place, relocate your life, launch it from the beginning and go from there - it's radically different. Sometimes that is easier and sometimes it is harder but I know we are doing something different and that makes every day exciting.