Forget Sin City. Call this place Acronym City.
When I moved to Las Vegas in March to write about gambling, one of the first quirks I noticed was the compulsion to brand resorts and businesses with letters instead of words. Driving around town, passing joints like the M, MGM, LVH, SLS Las Vegas and TI, I thought I had fallen into Twitterland.
The acronym craze is something you see often in business — decisions crafted for a Twitter-brained Facebook generation governed by 140 characters or less, with hashtags like #YOLO, “You only live once.”
Social media have slashed the English language into an alphabet of abbreviations. OMG, IMO FB is so yesterday. LOL!
Businesses have bought into the new lexicon, preferring contemporary branding over conventional grammar. And so resort marquees look like a Wall Street ticker tape or the scoreboard crawl on ESPN.
My cousin is staying at TI, but my parents prefer LVH. And it got a little confusing for my buddy who flew into LAS from LAX and took the RTC down LVB to get to LVH.
I can figure out the MGM Grand, thanks to the lion. FWIW, MGM stands for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, as in the film company that opened the casino.
But the SLS? It sounds like a new Cadillac. With a successful location in Miami, insiders expect the nightlife-themed resort taking the place of the Sahara to make a splash. But I’m a little confused. What does SLS mean?
One executive said it stands for the resort’s core values: style, luxury, service. But another person associated with the company told me the name is ambiguous: an easy acronym for bosses to assign “silly little sayings.”
Ask a scientist and he might assume it stands for sodium lauryl sulfate, a chemical used in toothpaste and shampoo. He might even confuse the boutique hotel for NASA’s Space Launch System. Ask an outsider without a Ph.D. in chemistry or aeronautics and you’ll likely get a confused stare or shrug of acceptance.
That’s a problem.
How can you have a brand if your customers struggle to conjure up an image of what you’re selling?
Owners of the Hughes Center, a pack of towering offices filled with analysts and accountants on Howard Hughes Parkway, recently changed the building’s name to the HC to sound more hip and cutting edge.
So Howard Hughes, the man who changed the face of Las Vegas by replacing mobbed-up casinos with stockholder-owned resorts, now is reduced to an acronym.
But what do I know? What one man sees as OMG, another sees as TLC.