. The Transom .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The grand opening that wasn't - Lumiere Place Casino

Opting out of the VIP event and choosing to experience the opening of the new Lumiere Place casino with the masses, I realized that the people in charge of casino marketing were either incredibly brilliant or remarkably stupid. As someone who pays attention to local news, it was hard not to miss advertisements for the new casino. Billboards, inserts, and a rather obnoxious wallpaper on stltoday.com touted the opening of the greatest casino outside of Vegas. Through all the hype and fanfare, through all the ads, one thing was still missing. What was there at the casino that was all that different than the others in town? All I knew was that it was a) new, b) hired only attractive people, and c) was new.

Upon arriving, the line to get your My Choice card (a stupid Missouri loss limit requirement) was so ridiculously long that people were waiting longer more than an hour. My group decided to leave the casino, walk the quarter-mile to the President Casino, get our card and hike back. The President, you may recall, is the casino that is now owned by Lumiere's parent company and will no doubt be shut down shortly. The lines at the President were, of course, nonexistent.

Upon returning to our original destination, we stood in yet another line for about 10 minutes waiting to have our ID's and cards checked. The lines were out the door and people were less than excited about the wait. But once inside, the casino looked more like a Vegas casino than anything else in town. Huge open floor plan, somewhat modern design, cool lights.

My first goal was to verify what I was told about the casino. Was it new? Check. Did they hire only attractive people? Well.... to some extent. There were attractive women walking around in skimpy and revealing outfits, but it wasn't exactly like walking into Hugh Hefner's place.

After a few strolls around the casino campus I was able to spot many of St. Louis' popular names all out for the grand opening. Bill Donius of Pulaski Bank fame was rolling at the two deck blackjack table. Issac Bruce was spotted. Most of the top lawyers in town were there in full black tie garb.

I ended up playing blackjack and doubled my money in just under 30 minutes. Clearly an abnormal night for me. I'm usually donating money to the house, not walking away with it. There were obvious kinks to work out with the staff. My drink was delivered to the wrong table, then it was the wrong drink. The dealer wasn't quite up to speed with the whole addition thing. The lines for nearly everything were long indicating that planning ahead wasn't quite as important as hyping the opening.

In short, the casino itself is cool. Will I make a special trip downtown just to play there. No. Do I think most people will. Probably not in the long run. For all the glitz and hype, for the cool design and spacious floor, it still isn't enough to get me to drive past two other great casinos - Harrah's and Ameristar. Maybe I'd have a different opinion if I'd been told more about what Lumiere had to offer other than it being new. But as it stands, it was a fun one night event. I came, I saw, I left.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Guest Post - Tom Amberg

I asked Tom Amberg, president of Cushman/Amberg Communications, to write a short reaction to an event he recently attended. It follows...

I had occasion the other night to attend a PR Leaders reception at the Freedom Museum of the Chicago Tribune. The small group of agency principles heard some remarks from Harris Diamond, the CEO of agency giant Weber Shandwick. In his remarks, Harris referred to himself as a "spin doctor," and noted that while some objected to the phrase, he had enough longevity in the industry to appreciate that at the core of it all, that's what we really are.

A few verbal objections from some in attendance led him to amplify on it. "We are advocates for our clients, and we're paid to tell their story," he said. Media are paid to be objective, he noted, but public relations professionals are paid to promote the interest of their clients, with the proviso that it must always be done honestly and in good faith.

It's hard to object to his reasoning. We are advocates. What we don't like is a phrase that sounds quite pejorative and implies that as "spin doctors" what we're really doing is twisting the truth. Every profession seems to have its' pejoratives -- lawyers are sharks or ambulance chasers, news people are hacks, doctors are quacks, etc. Sometimes a phrase hits a little too close for some. There are "spin doctors" in the bad sense in public relations, just as there are hacks in the news business. It's just a phrase. Let's move on.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The balanced opinion that isn't

I recently submitted a commentary to a well known newspaper, on a topic of their request. The topic was the proliferation of 'new media' and the use by companies and individuals to promote products and services through these new channels. Part of that commentary dealt with the abandonment of traditional print advertising in favor or more online or word of mouth marketing efforts. This of course, is the truth.

However, my submission was sent back and asked to be 'tweaked' so as not to come out and say that advertising in certain print publications, namely the one I submitted to, is a bad idea. Forgive me for thinking that commentary was more than my opinion and perspective. I didn't know I was supposed to be writing my opinion in the way the paper wanted it.

It's a shame that certain media are all too comfortable spitting out editorials and opinions when it suits them, and squashing the balanced opinion when it differs from their interests.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Watch this if you want to feel smart, or ashamed

I came across this video this morning and it is just a pathetic display of the kind of examples our country chooses to make famous, throw money at, and care about. Kellie Pickler, now on my list of "Dumbest People Using Up Good Oxygen," showed off all .0002 ounces of her brain with the following: