Hard on Hard Rock

The Hard Rock casino is at it again, and snap reporting by the LVRJ has ruined a Die Is Cast exclusive. The Hard Rock has gotten into trouble for its racy billboards in the past, and they are at it again. You can see for yourself, and read a little of the RJ’s take on the “controversy.”

felines and beavers and bunnies, oh my!
Several weeks ago, Hard Rock erected a billboard that depicts a cartoon cat, two rabbits and a wood-chewing beaver next to its hotel-casino at 4455 Paradise Road.

While the sign touts itself as “Another clean & inoffensive billboard from your friends at the Hard Rock,” others claim it’s simply a reprise of the suggestive content that led to the company’s $300,000 Gaming Control Board settlement that was rejected by the Nevada Gaming Commission and then Friday’s commission hearing.

“It’s a pussy, a beaver and some bunnies, and we all know what bunnies do,” Scott Robertson, creative director for local ad firm the Merica Agency, said Wednesday. “Because it’s not so overt, maybe people are OK with that, but given that there’s a looming controversy, it shocked me.

“To me, this is blatant thumbing their nose at the gaming commission.”

That opinion was echoed by Patti Gerace, a Walker Furniture marketer who serves as executive board member of the Las Vegas Advertising Federation. She chuckled at the sign’s use of animals and objects whose names are common euphemisms for genitalia or depict sexual activity.

“Because I know who they (Hard Rock) are and what they’ve portrayed in the past, I know what they’re trying to say,” Gerace said. “I see a beaver and some rabbits doing it. It’s not very nice. … It’s clever, it’s cute, but I still think people will find it offensive if they look at it in that way.”

Robertson compared the billboard to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s “What happens here, stays here” campaign, which hints at untoward activities but never depicts them.

“It’s up to our dirty minds to apply what we know that double meaning is,” Robertson said of the Hard Rock billboard. “The fact that it’s sort of rebelling by still being sexual, without being overtly sexual, intersects with the core values of the Hard Rock brand, which is sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Experts: New billboard lampoons regulators

In this case, the experts are wrong. The billboard doesn’t lampoon regulators. It lampoons all of us.

Hey, if you’re shocked by cartoon cats and beavers, that’s your problem. I see this billboard just about every day, and I was planning to take a picture and talk about it on here. Honestly, driving by it is impossible to determine exactly what species the cartoon figures are–they just look like animals. I know that I couldn’t guess what they were.

This story just keeps on getting more and more ridiculous. Like so much in Las Vegas, it is almost a parody of itself. It seems that people in this city go to great lengths to make everything an oversized mockery, then run around crying, “We’re about more than just gambling and sex! Why don’t people take us seriously?” The fact that the state’s biggest newspaper runs story with advertising “experts” talking about pussies and beavers says it all, as does the mock gravitas tone of the reporting. Seriously, if you ran this article in The Onion or another satire, people would laugh at the joke.

I’ve talked about this issue enough in the past, and I was going to ignore the latest go-round of non-news, but this was just too much.

For news and a picture of one of the initially offensive billboards, see Porn or Advertising?.
I’ll just post the image here:
Hard Rock
That billboard is still proudly visible on Swenson Ave, though it now reads, “Keep your mind on the game.” Why?
For info about the initial complaints see It’s a Hard Rock life, Hard Rock not solid, and Hard sell too edgy.

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