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Ad campaign aims to lure Bay Area residents

John Seelmeyer

The advertising campaign that began last week marks the biggest push by the Reno-area tourism industry into the San Francisco Bay Area in nearly eight years.

The $1.8 million campaign a joint effort of six hotel-casino properties and the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority targets Bay Area residents who never have visited the region as well as those who haven’t been here for a while.

The campaign’s goal? Convince them that Reno is convenient, a good value and a great getaway from the worries of a down economy.

That same down economy provide some additional muscle to the campaign, said Michael Thomas, executive director of marketing for the RSCVA.

Bay Area television stations and newspapers, hungry for advertising dollars, cut deals for the Reno advertising. In fact, Thomas said, the campaign bought advertising worth about $5 million with the $1.8 million that was budgeted. Creative Concepts of Truckee negotiated the media buy.

RSCVA put up $700,000 towards the campaign. Contributing the remainder of the budget were the Silver Legacy, the Eldorado, Atlantis, Circus Circus, The Peppermill and John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

The campaign developed by BBC Advertising of Reno carries the theme “Reno Rules.” Detailing the getaway opportunities in the Reno-Tahoe region fine dining, spa treatments, skiing the ads tell viewers and readers, “When you’re here, forget the other rules.” (Video ads can be sampled at renorules.com.)

“People need to let off some steam,” Thomas aid. “They need to get away from the rules.”

The advertising campaign is designed to run six months in the Bay Area and will be freshened four times to

reflect changing seasonal activities.

The campaign marks the first concerted push by the RSCVA and major properties into the Bay Area market since late 2001, Thomas said.

“We believe we’ll drive some business simply by being in front of people,” he said.

The advertising offers travelers a free night’s stay at the participating hotel properties. Each established its own terms for the free night.

The campaign was developed after research last autumn identified the potential to grow visitation to Reno and Lake Tahoe among some segments of Bay Area residents.

That research found about 15 percent of Bay Area residents haven’t been to the region recently and another 9 percent haven’t been here at all.

The message to both groups: Reno is accessible, fun and affordable.

“We’re good value,” said Thomas. “We’re the Southwest Airlines of the travel world.”

While RSCVA continues to work closely with meeting and convention planners to bring large groups to town, the Bay Area will be the predominant focus of advertising efforts in coming months.

That’s a market with substantial potential to boost tourist traffic in the Reno area quickly, Thomas said, especially as financially pressed consumers in northern California look for an affordable getaway.