The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas "Let Me Go" by Fallon Minneapolis (2012)
The Fallon agency brand has rather faded since its heyday a decade or so ago. For a time though, initially in the US and later in the UK, the agency was one of the industry's most admired as a result of a string of exceptional and memorable films for clients including BMW and United Airlines in the US and Cadbury and Sony in the UK. We'll have cause to return to those at a later date no doubt. For now, though, here's a late flowering - almost a last gasp even - from Fallon's US office in Minneapolis, an extravagant campaign for Marriott's boutique hotel The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The Cosmopolitan opened in 2010 with the aim of being a high style hangout for hipsters. The hotel's marketing chief Lisa Marchese described her target clientele as the "curious class", sophisticated urbanites seeking an experience, not just an overnight stay. "They have a real openness," claimed Marchese, "a willingness to try new boutique hotel concepts, to try new food, to travel. They have a less traditional view of the world."
That was the brief to Fallon, and they took Marchese at her word, riffing on the idea of Las Vegas as the capital of hedonistic indulgence. After all, everyone already knew that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. So Fallon took that one step further. 'Just the right amount of wrong' was the provocative concept devised by the trio of ex-pats from Australia and New Zealand who then ran Fallon's creative department: chief creative officer Darren Spiller, creative head Leon Wilson and head of art Christy Peacock. The brilliantly cheeky debut campaign featured a succession of vignette sequences illustrating just that: wild parties, tables overflowing with extravagant banquets, bellhops with no pants, and then - incomprehensibly - adorably fluffy kittens and puppies and even a deer running wild in the corridors. That ad caused a minor sensation and caused bookings to The Cosmopolitan to soar.
The follow-up required something different. "We always thought musicals were kind of wrong, when someone sings instead of just saying what they mean," says Darren Spiller. "Stealing someone's wife or girlfriend is kind of wrong as well. That's where we started." Somehow the idea of using Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' as the backing track entered the mix, and it seemed to fit perfectly with the hotel's persona, especially since the song could be remodelled as a narrative story. "We wanted to see if we could ramp up the music component even more than the first. We thought the Queen track - apart from being known by everyone - was great for dialogue as it's almost a spoken script in its own right. It also had a part in the track that enabled everyone - the guests - to get involved, which created a great finale." Perhaps surprisingly it wasn't hard to secure rights to the song, but it was expensive, remembers Spiller.
The hardest part, ironically, was securing access to the hotel for the four days required for the shoot. Most of the ad was filmed on-site, but they wouldn't shut the pool to guests so director Steve Ayson had to shoot that part of the ad on a custom-built set.
The final film is bold and brilliant, and wholly unlike any other ad we can think of before or since. A clever bit of media planning had it debut in the middle of the Grammys music awards telecast. Lisa Marchese's plan was to "restimulate the market to think and talk about us three years in. People might love it or hate it, but they're going to notice it and talk about it." It's good to see we're still talking about it six years later.