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The Missing Demographic

By Chuckmonster on Friday, 13th February 2015 10:28am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 23


For the most part, casinos are very particular when hiring models to appear in their marketing photo shoots. They pick clean, well groomed, fashionable, curvaceous, chiseled twenty/thirty somethings from the four basic food groups of ethnicities.

This photo, taken from the front page of Mandalay Bay's website is notable because of how perfectly these demographics have been choreographed to fit together.

They even managed to fly in a token floppy-haired dorkish millennial on the far right where he appears to be propositioned by two hookers. Truth in advertising!

Other than this threesome and the chefs, the entire cast of characters is neatly and perfectly arranged in pairings of one man and one woman.

This isn't a criticism, it is a question. When are the casinos going to move their gay outreach from abandoned recession-era marketing and 2011 corporate PR to putting ethnically diverse loving gay couples smack dab in the center of their marketing materials along with everybody else?

I'd say now is a good time.

Tagged: mandalay bay   marketing   lgbt   


Comments & Discussion:

Luxor.com does a pretty decent job of it, but fair enough point.

Good point. Not sure about the LGBT community as a whole, but dual income male couples tend to be wealthier than average, and should be a desirable target demographic for a whole multitude of industries. LV casino marketing as a rule seems pretty ham-handed, so any lack of outreach is probably more a function of incompetence than any active discrimination.

The Trop, of all places, does pretty decent out reach, too. This gay Las Vegas-file doesn't need the outreach, but socalduck is absolutely right...the LGBT community does have money...and vacations more than average. Throw it into the mainstream ads...chances are no one will notice, to be honest! Quick...kind of related story, which I just love to tell: A friend's parents recently moved to a retirement community. The first time she picked up her kids (12 year old boy, 8 or 9 year old girl) after a visit with grandma and grandpa her son said "Their neighbors are weird." My friend knew that a lesbian couple couple lived next door and was prepared to have a discussion about "different families" or the like. Then her daughter said, "Yea...they walk their cat on a leash every night!" Point is, "kids today" just don't care...and, I think a whole lot of other people today don't either...
(OK...so, I guess this story does reinforce the "lesbians and cats" stereotype, but what can you do...???...!!!...???...)

So, from what I can see the Asians are cookin or hookin, and I can't really tell if there are any African Americans there. Same with Hispanics.
Lemme ask this...what are the real numbers about gays, their wealth and vacations? I get the impression from earlier comments that gay men are fabulously wealthy and vacation every weekend! Slight exaggeration on my part. But, if homosexuals are 10% of the overall population, then I will guess that gay men are 5%. How much more money do gay men make than lesbians, or straight people? 10%, 20%? Do they vacation more often than lesbians? More than straight couples? Empty nester? If so, how much more, and how much doe they spend each trip?

im gay. anyone else here gay?

Who does CEO Casino von Old'Pecker want in his casino? Everyone who will spend. Who does he have?

I'd love to see numbers on this but, I'd bet the majority of regular casino dwellers are uneducated, older conservatives spanning various races that can all agree that "this machine is just about to hit" and "gays are the enemy".

vandalayind is right, Luxor does do a good job of this. It's the only thing they do well.

Well, in that add there are two black folks, but they're at the edges.

In terms of LGBT advertising, I would iamgine they want to walk a fine line on that. Not that the more homophobic folks are likely to come to Vegas all that much, but I would imagine there are some, plus there's definitely a posibility of getting some really unwelcome attention from some of the more obnoxious groups.

You're right in many ways that its confusing how there is a lack of gay outreach. Given the prevalence of gay DINK couples whom are usually highly educated, you'd think they'd be a perfect target market.

However, there are some reasons I can think of for the lack of gay-focused marketing. I notice that a lot of marketing towards gay people happens on alternate websites, i.e. there's wynnlasvegas.com and there's the gay site www.wynnpride.com - why isn't there a wynnlasvegas.com/GLBT site? I mean, its the same business, so shouldn't it be on the same domain?

I think the reason is that, particularly in the case of males, heterosexuality is seen as this fragile thing subject to the "one drop rule" (whereas for women you can totally kiss your ladyfriends as a greeting and its not gay at all!). Straight men in Anglosphere culture have a very strict set of taboos and transgressing them even once, even as a joke, = instant social emasculation and designation of oneself as "gay."

So as such, gay marketing is distanced from the main casino websites. After all, no one wants to be known as "the gay casino"... that would mean your entire place would be abandoned by the vast majority of high-end table games players (table games being mostly-male).

Sure, the mere notion of a "gay casino" is ridiculous - a casino can't have a sexual orientation - but a marketing strategy that is seen as "too friendly" to sexual minorities will unfortunately create this impression, and due to the "one drop rule" fragility of male heterosexuality this will scare away the vast majority of high-rollers.

The GLBT demographic, particularly gay men, are a fantastic market for Vegas. Yet they're underrepresented because no casino wants to be seen as a giant gay bar. This is not JUST about homophobia but about how male heterosexuals are constantly subject to completely demented scrutiny and criticism which drives them to "prove" their straightness. If the spectre of identity-loss weren't hanging over their shoulder all the time, they wouldn't feel so terrified of anything that had any degree of ambiguity. They'd say "okay, so the casino décor is high camp, so fucking what, the odds and comps here are good!"

But the silly little clichés about sexuality screw everybody up and make things very difficult, to say the least.

How to fix this? Well, I think the solution is one of 'subtle inclusiveness' - maybe make one of the background couples F/F or M/M. In the real world, same-sex couples are a minority so its not unrealistic to present them as a minority within advertising. Just... you know... indicate they're there, and treat them like everyone else, and don't make a fuss of it. If the PR guy is asked by the media why there's a gay couple in the marketing, the answer is simple: "well, some of our customers are in same-sex relationships, and we want our advertising to reflect our customers. After all, our customers make our business."

Over time, as sexuality becomes less of an issue (and it will become less important over time, thankfully... because really, it SHOULD be a non-issue), people won't feel so threatened.

I agree with StudiodeKadent's next-to-last paragraph. Subtle inclusiveness is a good thing if you're making one of those ads featuring one person of every ethnicity and age.

Besides, not every group of people *has* to be a couple. Bachelor/bachelorette parties are largely same-sex. Golfing/shopping/spa groups are largely same-sex. Even conventioners probably split off into same-sex (or at the very least homogenous) groups. Also, men and women can share a meal together without being a couple. I'd imagine all of these groups of people need to eat a meal - including straight and gay couples.

I'm not offended because gay couples are/are not included in a specific image. But this image still offends me. Why? I want to punch everyone in it and run far, far away to a restaurant full of normal-looking people. Can we talk about that?

(Also, I think we're overthinking this issue. How long does the average person look at an advertisement, anyway? Only we denziens on this website would parse every aspect of a casino ad.)

I'm guessing the Trevago-lookin' guy on the far-left in the Members Only jacket is about as far as Mbay is willin' to go...

Unfortunately, many companies are unwilling to do ads or any of sort of marketing to the general public that has the potential to create controversy and a backlash. There are folks in recent years that have gotten riled up over commercials in which there was an interracial family in it. Cheerios faced such a backlash in 2013 over such a commercial, but they ignored the haters and the following year, ran a commercial during the Super Bowl featuring the same family from the previous ad. Last year, Honey Maid graham crackers did an ad that included families with interracial as well as same sex couples and had a similar backlash over it. They responded by creating a new ad that could be looked at as trolling those who posted negative comments about the first ad.

If there's any casinos in Vegas that are likely to include same sex couples in their ads and marketing (as opposed to the niche and more discrete marketing currently done towards the LGBT demographic), it's likely to be an independent operator as opposed to someone like Caesars or MGM since the backlash could have collateral damage to their sister properties. It may be a shot in the dark, but perhaps SLS needs to be the one to make that leap, as considering the state of affairs there, it would probably work out better than trying to attract the locals crowd.

To be fair gay/lesbian Americans are less than 2% of the nation's population. This is from a recent study by the CDC, not Fox News or some conservative foundation, so no one can claim bias.

This is roughly equal to the amount of Americans that identify as Native American. Does this mean that casino marketing should always have a NA man or woman in the ad? No.

The reason why casinos don't try to market to the gay community more is, well frankly going after what amounts to a tiny market at the expense of much more competitive markets does not make sense. And yes they do run the risk of making their main demo less interested in visiting their resort as I believe someone else mentioned. Look at it this way, would it make sense for a company like Hobby Lobby or Chik Fil A to open up a store in WEHO? What about a strip club featuring just women next to The Abbey? No it wouldn't because while WEHO has a straight population, the gay (male) population is the demo that drives business. Offending them/not catering to them at least in some respect makes zero sense.

If the LGBT demo and frankly when it boils down to it gay and bi men were such a big draw, Liason would not have just shut its doors. No property in Vegas is anti-gay, nor should they be. That being said there are far, far less people who want to see as an example men in a thong on a billboard or in the party pit as a dealer as an example. This includes many women.

As an LGBT American seeing an ad targeting my boyfriend and myself would be a step in the right direction.

However, after a number of trips to Vegas together we've never been 100% comfortable. We've always stayed at the Wynn, and that hotel does a great job of making us feel included and welcome. The turndown always provides two sets of the brown (male) slippers and nobody bats an eye when we reserve one King bed room. That being said, the response from the other patrons often leaves a lot to be desired.

We don't engage in PDA, even when home in New York, but that doesn't stop some ppl from being a little too judgmental around the pool area or if he asks for a bite of my food in a restaurant. On our last trip we were at LAVO (a restaurant we love) and he asked for a bite of my salmon. I put some on my fork and fed it to him (like any couple would). You would have thought we had undressed given some of the looks that little action got. I understand we aren't accepted everywhere but that was pretty innocent and completely devoid of any sexual connotation.

All told, we love Vegas and may continue to go back, but no amount of casino marketing would make us feel welcome. An overall change in attitude is what's needed and until that happens I'm happy to spend my money in places I feel like less of a freak and more like a regular person.

I think advertising for LGBT should sprinkled here and there in other advertisinig than advertising solely for that demographic. For example Temptation Sundays and Revolution Sundays, days specically for LGBT individuals intead of a venue solely for that demographic. This is why Liason closed, they weren't able to get a steady stream of customers through the door because 1. LGBT locals won't venture there because locals don't go to the Strip 2. Closeted LGBT individuals who visit Vegas wouldn't definitely enter the place and be seen. So that leave a faw smaller demographic to visit the place, if they hear about it. Attracting the LGBT community is very difficult in my opinion.


"To be fair gay/lesbian Americans are less than 2% of the nation's population."

I wonder if bisexuals are included in that figure. Also, there's the closeting issue - I certainly agree that openly GLBT Americans are around 2% of the US population but that might not reflect the actual figure of "all persons who are in-fact non-exclusively-heterosexual."

But all of that is irrelevant. That 2% is a disproportionately wealthy demographic and many of them are DINKs (double-income-no-kids), some of whom have very few family ties (due to being disowned by their families in some tragic cases) and thus aren't putting their money into the kid's college fund.

The Native American comparison is disingenuous - Native Americans are (in general) not nearly as wealthy and many of them foster strong familial/tribal connections which may (in theory) result in them being less willing to spend large amounts of money on personal leisure.

That small 2% is very lucrative. This is why it is in the interests of casino companies to try and attract that demographic.

The trick is how to do it without making Casino X feel "oh so FABULOUS!" and thus alienating straight males (who make up the majority of high-rolling players).

In this day & age of a terrible fear of offending any particular group, even at the risk of losing the right to free speech, there does seem to be a move to ignore the 98% who are not gay.
A proportion of this 98%, say 2%, are not bursting to promote gay rights.
No one appears to be worried if I or the rest of this 2nd 2%, are offended.
Whatever the law, however views have changed, I still find the sight of two males, passionately kissing & petting in public, quite disturbing.
Now I realise I don't have the right to be disturbed but equally one vocal group should not have the right to be forced upon another group, 24/7 wherever we go.
Sometimes the rights of one minority should not outweigh another group simply because they demand more.

I agree, a trendy joint like MB could've paired off just about any of the male models in this pic and checked off the LGBT demographic box. It would've added to the sophisticated look they're trying to achieve. I wouldn't be surprised if they arranged a few scenes like that but then settled on this look for page 1 instead.

That said, a home page is a place for a pretty picture, that's all. Does MB's website have a LGBT Pride page like Caesars' hotel websites have (at least the Caesars websites I've seen)? Do they advertise in LGBT media or reach out through LGBT social media?

There's nothing inherently wrong in treating a niche market as a niche market. That's what targeted marketing is all about, ain't it?

Well, I suppose it's nice to know we still have on homophone around here....wait, no it isn't.

NYC, sorry to hear some folks are still asses about things that are different from them. I suppose that's a part of the reason why we don't see a lot of gay-oriented advertising so far for things and places looking for a universal reach.

Paris and Luxor have always seemed to be at the forefront, at least from what I've seen, is Paris' focused website still up?

I don't think it will be long until we see more LGBT style marketing from the casinos, but I do wonder how encompassing it will be. While I agree that views are changing, (and righfully so) I think we are still a ways away from mainstreaming LGBT marketing. I just don't see Las Vegas resorts taking that big a leap, after all, with the homongenized marketing we get now, there is nothing that says to me, they have any ability to be at the forefront of new trends.

My 2 cents on the marketing photo above, what is with creepy guy on the left, and center blonde in backgroun, I'm pretty sure you could bounce a quarter of her rear.

Also did they photo shop out of the chef's arm, just to ensure her ass was fully showing, if not, they did a heck of a job lining up that shot, bravo

Let's get back to the 2% number. Is 25 of the population male homosexual? or 2% male and female? Is the split between male and female homosexuals about 50/50?

How wealthy is the gay male demo? Are there studies? Do they have statistics that give us breakdowns on education, income, and leisure spending? I'm sure they're out there, I've just never seem 'em. Although, I will admit I haven't really looked for them, either. The studies, that is. Or gay males either. Wait! Oh...mumble mumble...

Are lesbians a desirable demo? Do the have higher education and wealth? Seems like they are a total non-factor in our discussion. Is that because they don't read VT, or don't have money and travel?

For JeffinOKC, and everyone else interested, this company is the "industry standard" for LBGT market research and they focus heavily on travel/tourism:


"Sometimes the rights of one minority should not outweigh another group simply because they demand more."

To the poster of that remark (who I will not acknowledge by name): That was the foundation of the entire Civil Rights movement. My father, uncle and many of their friends had to fight WW2, drafted straight from the American concentration camps, to make that point. And still, we have nothing at all on the African Americans who did more and still have been granted less. (You also could have some words with hetero feminists.)

Vegas certainly is no place for the morally prudish or easily offended....

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