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Rod Smith

Golden Gate TV Ad Spoofs Wynn

18 May 2005

Another local gaming executive has climbed to the top -- the top of his own casino, that is.

This time it's the owner of the Golden Gate, who appears atop the historic downtown hotel-casino in a new television ad that both mocks and capitalizes on developer Steve Wynn's commercial promoting his new $2.7 billion megaresort.

"My name is Mark Brandenburg, and this is my hotel," the Golden Gate owner says in the TV ad, which spoofs a commercial showing Wynn atop his new Wynn Las Vegas megaresort, proclaiming "this is my hotel" and it's the first one "I've ever put my name on."

For Brandenburg, this is the first time in a decade he has run television or radio commercials, except for one spot that ran on KTUD-TV, Channel 25, early this year in association with the Las Vegas Centennial.

The Golden Gate commercial began airing last weekend on NBC affiliate KVBC-TV, Channel 3, and UPN affiliate KTUD. It is scheduled to run 23 times on KVBC and 89 times on KTUD. No ad agency has been involved in the campaign, and the production and buy together cost less than $11,000, Brandenburg said.

He got the idea for the ad, produced by UPN, early this year when writers from the German magazine Der Spiegel were in town to preview Wynn Las Vegas, Brandenburg said.

"They called us the anti-Wynn, the alternative to Wynn. The Europeans are into authenticity and they like places like mine," he said.

Wynn, while acknowledging "it's fun someone is doing something reminiscent of us," has his doubts about whether the Golden Gate ad will be as successful as his own.

Advertisements work if they make prospective guests want to visit a property, he said.

Wynn said the key to his commercial's success was the last line when he asked: "Can I get down now?"

That line was meant to make Wynn human and help bring his megaresort down to a human scale consumers could appreciate, he said.

"This was a tongue-in-cheek commercial, and it's hard to tell if an ad will work when it's a play on another ad," he said. "But if it draws business to the property, it's a good thing."

University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson, who specializes in gaming studies, believes the Gold Gate spot will generate locals-market business for the property, although its affect will be short-lived "because cute doesn't last all that long."

"It'll have local appeal because people will take note of the name and check it out," he said.

There may be other knock-off ads in the works too, but don't expect to see all of the gaming companies' top execs atop their hotels.

Terry Lanni, chairman of MGM Mirage, the world's largest gaming company, Tuesday said he wouldn't be caught dead copying Wynn and Brandenburg, even if their ads are effective.

"You're never going to see me standing on top of one of my hotels because, frankly, I'm afraid of heights even if I was properly belted in the way Steve was," he said.

Jim Medick, chief executive officer of the MRC Group, Nevada's largest market research firm, said the newest little ad campaign fits the old adage: "If you can't make your commercials pretty, make them memorable."

"I think Steve Wynn is still safe, but it's a very clever knock-off," he said.

Golden Gate TV Ad Spoofs Wynn is republished from