Atlantic City aims to counter bad publicity with ad campaign

Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:21pm EDT
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By Daniel Kelley

(Reuters) - Atlantic City's supporters have launched an ad campaign to reverse what they see as an onslaught of bad publicity about the New Jersey seaside resort, where four of 12 casinos have recently announced plans to close.

Full-page ads to appear on Thursday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newark Star-Ledger and Wall Street Journal show the city's beach earlier this month during a free concert by country stars Lady Antebellum attended by 65,000 people.

Atlantic City Alliance, the marketing agency behind the city's "Do AC" slogan, bought the ads, which will run two days after the city's newest casino, the $2.4 billion Revel, said it would shut down after less than three years in business.

"The image is that this city is dead," said Liza Cartmell, the president of the Atlantic City Alliance. "In reality, our boardwalk is packed, our beaches are packed. We have a lot of reporters coming down to do stories on these closures, and they say, 'Why can't I get a room?'"

Room occupancy rates in Atlantic City have topped 95 percent, the alliance says, while some hotels that are not associated with casinos are experiencing double-digit growth.

Cartmell hopes the ads will highlight non-gaming activities as Atlantic City tries to reposition itself as a family-friendly leisure and entertainment destination.

Gaming revenue for Atlantic City, which once held a lucrative East Coast gambling monopoly, has dropped from its 2006 peak of $5.2 billion to $2.8 billion, according to state gaming regulators.

The trend follows the introduction or expansion of gaming in neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York.   Continued...

A view from the boardwalk of several casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in this March 14, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer/Files