Plot Thickening Dept: Mirage Fires Ad Agency
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When Felix Rappaport - a long time MGM Resorts executive with multiple tours of duty at the helm of myriad Strip properties under his belt - abruptly resigned from his post as president of Mirage, it raised flags amongst industry watchers. There was no logical reason why this loyal MGM soldier would quit at his own volition, save some personal issues, heath, family or otherwise. With the beacon of Phil Ruffin overtures to purchase the Mirage beeping off the bow of MGM's financially listing ship fresh in our minds, the potential for Mirage to be thrown overboard stretched like dawn over a flotsam filled sea.
Two months later, a new property president is named in Trevor Schirrer, another tenured MGM exec who has done time as Executive Vice President of Operations at Mirage, Senior Vice President of Marketing at New York-New York and stints at Bellagio and Golden Nugget. With the announcement came news that Mirage was embarking on an extensive renovation of their casino floor.
People retire, quit, resign or are fired and usually their lieutenants replace them. Simple, right?
Agency of record? What the hell is that? The simplest way of explaining this is in Mad Men terminology. The fictitious Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce an advertising agency. They create brand identities, marketing plans, design creative assets and handle the placement and purchasing of advertising for their clients. The client, in addition to paying for these services, identifies the firm as "agency of record" publicly so those in the industry know who is holding the rights and responsibilities for the clients marketing voice.
Six or so months ago, The Mirage hired David&Goliath to be their agency. D&G handles other MGM Resorts accounts including New York New York, Monte Carlo and Hotel 32. Firing an agency with a known track record for the parent company in six short months at roughly the same time that the property president is "resigned" is most definitely an eyebrow raiser. Six months is not enough time to design and develop let alone test, implement and optimize a brand marketing campaign. The last time I undertook a ginormous full scale redesign of VT (which included Reno and AC sites at the time) it took about 8 months from conception to launch, granted I'm a one man wrecking crew, but ideas take time to develop and grow.
It is certainly possible that Mirage just didn't like D&G's work or process and decided to give them the boot, but the timing of these changes is uncanny. I wonder if we're actually on the precipice of a much more dramatic change at Mirage than MGM is letting on. With their debt covenants significantly satisfied, MGM has a bit more room to maneuver and perhaps might be eyeballing Mirage not as jetsam, but as an undertapped gold mine of square footage waiting to be squeezed double the current casino drop and more importantly - find high priced partners to pay high priced rent.
The point being is that perhaps MGM corporate made plans to thoroughly re-invigorate Mirage and when their financials turned around, go time arrived. A new direction for Mirage wouldn't fit an old guard guy like Rappaport, he was in charge of Luxor's "Pyramid" renovation and failed. As a steward of idling properties, he is the perfect guy, but to refocus an aging Mirage in a post-Cosmopolitan universe (did I just type that?) requires a bold new thinking. Now, Trevor Schirrer isn't spritely, he's got 25 years experience, BUT he has sat at the table of Marketing and Advertising at NYNY and most likely worked directly with D&G when there. Could Schirrer have pulled the rip cord on D&G as the ink was drying on his promotion? Who knows.
Something is afoot at Mirage, and I have an inkling that it is a bit more involved than new paint and a new celebrity chef steak joint.
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