Tourism leaders: 'Do AC' campaign is catching on

Associated Press Published: October 16, 2012
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — More people who view AC are willing to "Do AC."

The Atlantic City Alliance, the new marketing arm of the casinos, says its multimillion-dollar advertising campaign shows people in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Md., are improving their perceptions of Atlantic City. A survey found that 39 percent of people who saw the campaign say they are motivated to visit there.

The group is using $30 million a year that the casinos used to have to pony up to the state's four horse racing tracks in return for keeping slot machines out of the tracks. That money is now being used to promote Atlantic City more aggressively than ever before.

Don Marrandino, chairman of the alliance and president of four Atlantic City casinos, says the "Do Anything, Do Everything, Do AC" campaign has focused intently on non-gambling activities, letting people know about fine dining, top entertainment, spas and shopping in the resort.

"It promotes an image of fun, excitement, great hotels and great entertainment," he said. "Instead of Atlantic City being shown just as a gambling destination, we're showcasing the resort as a whole. It's getting the word out that this is not a one-horse town."

The campaign, and the alliance itself, are key pieces of Gov. Chris Christie's turnaround strategy for Atlantic City, which recently lost its ranking as the nation's second-largest gambling market to Pennsylvania. The governor put a revamped state agency in charge of planning, economic development and tourism in Atlantic City, and it is assisting the city with safety and cleanliness initiatives.

Christie says he's willing to give Atlantic City five years to see if his reforms will work before reconsidering whether to amend New Jersey's Constitution to permit casino gambling in other parts of the state. Northern New Jersey politicians and the horse racing industry have long wanted a casino at the Meadowlands sports complex.

Liza Cartmell, president of the alliance, said 79 percent of people who saw the ad campaign said they felt better about Atlantic City afterward. She said respondents were more likely to see the resort as "sophisticated, glamorous and less rundown."