The identity crisis affecting land-based casino companies

TAGs: Harrah's, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts

casino-identity-crisisWhat’s in a name? Plenty, if you’re trying to create brand awareness and nurture that association over the years (decades, if you’re lucky). Calvin Ayre loves to tell the story of all the work that went into his choice of the name Bodog back in the day. Must have been worth it, because he seems pretty content not to mess with success.

The same conventions don’t seem to matter much in the land-based casino world, at least, not when it comes to the names of their parent companies. MGM Mirage, which was created when MGM Grand acquired Mirage Resorts, recently renamed itself MGM Resorts International. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is contemplating shedding the ‘Las Vegas’ part to better reflect the growing importance of Asia to the company’s bottom line.

But the phenomenon is not new – in 1999, Circus Circus opted to become Mandalay Resort Group. In 2004, Caesars Entertainment was unveiled as the new name of Park Place Entertainment, but the Caesars name was retired when Harrah’s Entertainment acquired the company not long after. Now, pending regulatory approval, Harrah’s will become Caesars Entertainment Corp, because, in the words of CEO Gary Loveman, that moniker better reflects their ‘evolution into a full-service entertainment company’. We always thought evolution meant continually moving forward, not reaching back in time to a name you thought you’d outgrown. At this rate, they’ll be back to Park Place by 2015.

It must be noted that most of these identity-switches have little or no impact among the general public, whose only concern lies with the name above the casino door, not the name adorning the corporate office. So why do it? Are these rebranding initiatives foisted onto CEO’s by the smooth talking modern day Don Drapers at PR and ad agencies? With all the work that gets shifted their way, it wouldn’t surprise us if the people who design and print corporate letterheads, business cards and promotional materials also played a role. But with each name change, we can’t help but wondering: Who are you?


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