Fear and Licensing in Las Vegas
I flew in yesterday and already have my booth set up for the International Licensing Expo. It only takes five minutes. The show's taking place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, which actually resembles a hotel convention center, unlike the Luxor, which looks like an pharaoh's tomb, or my hotel, which looks like a cheesy castle, although you have to walk for miles through casino and food court before you finally get there. Right now the construction of hundreds of corporate attractions is underway and there's partially-built plywood structures and huge hanging soffits and false ceilings, giant characters made out of foam and fiberglass, undulating fascia, spinning stages, and great big images of Elvis, the M&M man, Mr. Peanut, and every brand in the world competing for mind space. There were so many pallets and boxes and half-built displays yesterday that when I left my booth I wandered lost within the endless zone of manic construction. I couldn't find the one door that was open to the outside, and I went into a panic. Sanrio, John Wayne, United Features, NFL Football, Warner Brothers, Smurfs, Hooters, Terminix, let me the %#@* out of here!
When the show was at the Javits you would transition from the madness inside to the gritty street ambiance of New York City, which was always a relief, but here in Vegas you pass seamlessly from one branded environment to another, each as lit-up, sexed-up, and sell-sell-sell as the other. If it weren't for the one-arm bandits you'd hardly know that you'd left the show floor. Ironically, the art and design section of the show is the calmest, most non-branded place probably in all of Las Vegas. It's also scrunched way back in its own corner, seemingly way off the beaten track. The show has not hung banners with row numbers from the ceiling in our area, so it's impossible to track down a booth by the number. Maybe they'll fix that before showtime. I'm in booth 3173, not that the number will help you, but drop by and say hello if you're here.