Mandalay Bay is known around the world as one of the most luxurious resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, and that is thanks in large part to the all-encompassing treatment it provides for its guests. More than mere guests, Mandalay Bay considers its customers “resortists” who are given the five-star treatment from check-in to check-out. Whether it’s in their hotel room, on the sand of the resort’s beach or in one of its many entertainment and dining venues, Mandalay Bay wants its resortists to have a complete experience.
Although Las Vegas has spent the last several years promoting itself by saying that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Mandalay Bay has partnered with All-American Licensing & Management Group (AALMG) to develop a line of products that will allow its resortists to bring a piece of the experience home with them.
All-American Licensing & Management Group is already known for working with brands and personalities such as Jennifer Adams, The J. Paul Getty Trust, Phil Keoghan of “The Amazing Race,” supermodel Kim Alexis, Cristina Saralegui and Schleich Toy Company to name a few. The firm is leveraging its extensive in-house licensing and branding experience to help Mandalay Bay extend its brand outside the confines of the Las Vegas Strip and into retailers around the world.
Founding Partner Michael Gottsegen says Mandalay Bay’s strong brand identity was attractive for our agency that specializes in finding the “merchandisable DNA” of its clients. With its tropical atmosphere and best-of-Vegas amenities, it’s no wonder that Mandalay Bay was eager to extend that experience outside of its resort. “It really is a lifestyle brand,” Project Manager Reed Nettles says. “When guests put on their Mandalay Bay suntan lotion at home, it will remind them of when they were on our beach or many pools.”
As AALMG and Mandalay Bay gear up for this year’s Licensing Expo on the resort’s home turf of Las Vegas, the agency is confident that the licensees it has been working with will have captured the essence of what it is to be a “resortist.” Indeed, Gottsegen and Founding Partner Tim Rothwell predict the initial line of products that will roll out early next year are only the beginning for the Mandalay Bay lifestyle brand. “We’re always looking for creative ways to capture the imagination of our guests,” said Chuck Bowling, President and COO of Mandalay Bay. “Through a robust licensing program, AALMG is committed to connecting Mandalay Bay with opportunities that not only generate new revenue streams, but also build our brand loyalty and awareness among our guests.”
Nettles says the it was AALMG’s objectives to find the right mix of products that would fit perfectly with the Mandalay Bay’s resortist lifestyle. Rothwell added that the agency looked at what it considered the three distinct prongs of the Mandalay Bay experience: the rooms, the pool and the spa. From each of those aspects, AALMG was able to develop specific product strategies. “Working with AALMG over the past year has been a great experience,” says Chad Brown, executive director of marketing for Mandalay Bay. “Michael, Tim and Reed have the extensive knowledge and expertise that we were seeking to extend the Mandalay Bay brand into new markets and provide the resortist with an opportunity to bring the Mandalay Bay experience home with them.”
To recreate the experience Mandalay Bay’s guests have in their rooms, AALMG worked to develop a home furniture and furnishings line that runs the gamut from lighting fixtures to rugs and to bedding. Rothwell says the agency has worked with some of the best manufacturers in these categories already, giving it a solid foundation to get started from. “For our bedding and accessories licensee, AALMG selected PEM America, as this category is going to be a cornerstone for our lifestyle program,” Rothwell says.
“The Mandalay Bay furniture category from Impact Furniture Marketing will be an amazing collection of both indoors and outdoors items that will enhance the brand experience,” Gottsegen says, adding that the furniture line will include a little something for everyone. “There will be a variety of sustainable and fashionable pieces that will range from elegant, high style to solid bamboo.”
Recreating the pool experience at Mandalay Bay is another crucial aspect of capturing the brand’s essence for consumers, as the resort’s 120-acres of beach, resort and pool area has been voted one of the best in the United States by Trip Advisor. Featuring more than 2,700 tons of real sand and a 1.6-million-gallon wave pool as the centerpieces, Mandalay Bay offers its guests an experience that can’t be matched anywhere else on the Las Vegas Strip.
“When you look at Mandalay Bay, it’s an oasis in the middle of the desert, and it really captures everything from the tropics to the desert,” Rothwell adds.
To bring the resort’s pool and beach experience home to consumers, AALMG was able to work with the best-in-class licensees to develop a variety of product lines from swimwear, cover-ups and sunglasses, to flip flops and sunscreen.
“AALMG signed In Gear Fashions to develop a line of men’s and women’s casual yet elegant swimwear and cover ups,” Gottsegen says. “Another licensee, Maggie May Swimwear, is developing a trend-setting collection of luxury hand-knitted bikinis, monokinis, and chic resort wear inspired by Mandalay Bay.”
To produce a line of functional and fashion-forward sunglasses, AALMG partnered with Solaray Corporation. Cambridge Towel Company will be producing a line of beach towels and bath accessories. Nettles, says complementing the casual elegance of the beach line also will include fashion and active footwear from Playa Vista Designs that will include everything from flip-flops to sandals.
No resort experience is complete without time at the spa, and AALMG understands how important it was for Mandalay Bay to help its “resortists” feel as pampered at home as they did at the resort. That’s why the newly developed Mandalay Bay lifestyle line will include an assortment of health and beauty products, including fragrances and shampoos.
As veterans of the licensing and marketing world for many years, Gottsegen, Rothwell and Nettles knew exactly how to develop a winning strategy for Mandalay Bay’s new lifestyle brand. Gottsegen and Rothwell spent many years as senior executives at IMG, one of the world’s leading agencies for sports, entertainment and media. Before IMG, Gottsegen served as vice president of retail development at NBC Universal, managing brands such as Jurassic Park and The Cat in the Hat. Rothwell also is a long-time executive of Universal, and before joining IMG was president of Marvel Entertainment’s worldwide consumer products division. Nettles had developed licensing strategies for NASCAR as well as properties and brands such as Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball and the Muppets. Also partnering with the AALMG team on the project are long-time industry professionals Al Ovadia and Lisa Berlin-Wright.
After reviewing Mandalay Bay’s exhaustive market segmentation study to determine who its primary customers were, AALMG developed a “licensing road map” for the resort that pin-pointed Mandalay Bay’s unique intellectual capital and its potential licensing qualities, attributes and elements.
Making the process smoother for AALMG was the fact that the agency already has a solid core of licensees it has worked with to call upon. “We had quite a big data base of first-class manufacturers, so we pretty much knew who to go to as we developed our long-term and short term strategies for Mandalay Bay,” Gottsegen says.
AALMG is expecting to make a big splash with the Mandalay Bay lifestyle line at this year’s Licensing Expo, which is being held at the resort’s convention center. From there, Nettles says some of the swimwear products will be featured at retailers before the entire line is released in 2014. He says Mandalay Bay’s focus in 2013 will be on working to build buzz for the lifestyle brand with the first swimwear products to coincide with the start of the beach season.
Before the line launches wide, however, Mandalay Bay is making a push for the lifestyle brand through its own stores at the resort. Nettles says the resort just completed a rebranding effort that revitalized the look of its in-house stores, including naming them “MB Lifestyle” stores.
“Mandalay Bay has provided our licensees with the opportunity to merchandise their products together providing an ideal showcase for our Mandalay Bay lifestyle products.” Gottsegen adds.
“Having on-premises retail support has been helpful,” Nettles says, explaining that building the lifestyle brand on the Mandalay Bay property will help the brand build quickly. Mandalay Bay’s future expansion plans include opening a series of stand-alone Mandalay Bay retail shops globally.
Overall, Gottsegen says AALMG has a good feeling about the Mandalay Bay lifestyle brand’s prospects for success, noting that right now hotel brands are in demand at retailers. The strength of the Mandalay Bay name as a brand that resonates with frequent visitors to Las Vegas as well as those who have not visited yet is expected to help the lifestyle products find a significant audience.
Given the popularity of the resort with foreign tourists, as well, AALMG has high hopes that the luxury of the Mandalay Bay resort soon will be found in homes around the globe. Rothwell says AALMG expects the Mandalay Bay lifestyle products to enjoy strong name recognition wherever the products are found in retail outlets throughout the world.
“Mandalay Bay is a global brand; people come here from all over the world,” he says.