CAMPAIGNS: Bellagio displays PR flair in drawing art exhibit visitors

PR Team: Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts (Las Vegas) and Kirvin Doak Communications (Las Vegas) Campaign: Faberge: Treasures from the Kremlin Time Frame: July 2002 - October 2002 Budget: $75,000

PR Team: Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts (Las Vegas) and Kirvin Doak Communications (Las Vegas) Campaign: Faberge: Treasures from the Kremlin Time Frame: July 2002 - October 2002 Budget: $75,000

Las Vegas is more synonymous with free booze and dinner theater than Basquiat and De Kooning, but the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts at the Bellagio Hotel has been working to change that perception over the past few years. Since developer Steve Wynn put his own substantial collection of art up for public display at the new hotel in 1998, thousands of guests have taken a break from their gambling to check out the treasures hidden in the heart of the hotel. Buoyed by that early success, the gallery was seeking to raise its profile even further, aiming to attract not only weary wagerers, but Vegas socialites and art aficionados as well. The lure for those diverse groups is currently an exhibit of rare Faberge items, many of which have not left their Moscow home in decades. But bringing in the Kremlin's opulence didn't assure that the crowds would follow. Strategy Part of the goal of the exhibit was to draw in crowds that don't usually frequent museums, and make it appeal to the broadest range of Vegas visitors. "The curators and the president of the gallery wanted to position the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art as a place to see the most incredible artwork in the world, but without the trepidation and intimidation that goes with seeing it in a museum," explains Kirvin Doak Communications' David Kirvin. To do that, Kirvin's team reached out to diverse groups that would either have an interest in the Faberge name, or could influence others who did. While the tourist and travel market was certainly a priority, Kirvin also focused on reaching locals who have contact with those coveted tourists. "The local market is often a source of referrals for what to do in Las Vegas. If you're coming in as a tourist, you're going to hear promotions from cab drivers and concierges," he explains. Lastly, the strategy included reaching out to art lovers who wouldn't want to miss this rare opportunity to view more than 200 Faberge items, including three of the famous eggs, gathered for an unusual US appearance. Tactics Along with targeting national art, travel, and tourist publications, Kirvin's team also made a big push to the Las Vegas service professionals who have contact with tourists - especially Bellagio staff members. "It's a 3,000-room hotel. It's a mini city," says Kirvin. "That's really the first area you want to make sure is all covered." Kirvin also did outreach to cab drivers and concierges, even hosting a special reception for concierges, and offering free gallery admission to both groups. "We'd actually go to the cab stands and introduce them to the exhibit," recalls Kirvin. Kirvin also arranged for a newscaster from a local TV station to travel to Moscow to see how the eggs were traveling, and to show their permanent home at the Moscow Armory. "We had put it down that it was something we wanted to do, but we didn't know how likely it was," says Kirvin of the trip, which was arranged in less than one week. "It wasn't easy, but the result was spectacular." Kirvin Doak also scored exposure in W magazine, which did a feature on Vegas socialites, and profiled the president of the gallery. Results Kirvin says the exhibit has gone "as well or better than we hoped." More than 90,000 guests have already been to the gallery, which will have the Faberge items on display through the end of January. The TV footage from Moscow proved to be one of the most valuable press elements. "They're sending that out to the networks, so we're seeing it run all over the country. It was great exposure," says Kirvin. Future Kirvin Doak is already looking forward to helping with the gallery's next exhibit: a look at Andy Warhol works that feature celebrities.

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