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Stuart Elliott, reporter for The New York Times, covering media and advertising
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- In advertising, it’s called the ‘borrowed interest’ tactic – tying a product to publicity from a high-profile current event. Of course, if it’s not played just right, it can backfire.
“Borrowed interest just means there’s no real value in the product or service you offer, or at least the (advertising) agency people couldn’t find it,” says Martin Gelsema in The Branding Blog.
But if the synergy between the product and the news event is just right, it can be an effective strategy, albeit one with a short shelf life.
This could be the case with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau effort to define Vegas as a city of secrecy in an era of National Security Agency spying. Their update on the classic “what happens here, stays here” slogan urges social media outfits such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to stand strong against privacy invasions from the NSA.
“If this was a one-time ad that was meant to capitalize on all the buzz and controversy of the eavesdropping scandal than I would say it’s probably a cute idea, particularly given the brand of the Las Vegas ‘what happens here, says here,’” says Stuart Elliott, New York Times reporter covering media and advertising.
Elliot says the success of these types of ads hinges on picking a topic that people are talking about, that late-night comedians are including in their monologues.
He says the LVCVB ad is “not likely to raise any hackles,” particularly if they move on from it once the NSA issue is no longer in the headlines.
“I think you run the risk with this sort of thing if you do it for a sustained period of time you’re going to be perceived as taking sides in the controversy, which I’m sure is not the intent of the Convention and Visitors folks.”