Monorail LVCVA Patrick Pharris Promethean Partners
One aspect of the Las Vegas monorail system that has been lost in the debate over whether the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority should have acquired it for $ 24.26 million is its potential as an advertising vehicle.
Before the system began carrying passengers in 2004, executives hired Patrick Pharris and his late Promethean Partners LLC to develop a concept to provide mobile billboards and monorail station sponsorships to supplement the income that the system expected to generate.
Pharris created a concept he called “total brand immersion”, and one of his colleagues later dubbed it “transpertainment”.
“In 2000, I was asked to consult with the developers of the monorail to find a way to generate at least $ 6.5 million per year from something other than tariff revenue,” Pharris explained. “They had to show that this amount was viable, in order to obtain a AAA bond rating and bond insurance. The concept was obvious, at least to me: if the monorail were to transport 19.7 million passengers per year around the most visited city in the world, and these passenger-consumers, would be in a captive environment (stations and trains) for 4-14 minutes, then the monorail would be one of the most valuable experiential marketing platforms on the planet.
Pharris was invited by the original bond underwriters, Solomon Smith Barney, to join the monorail investment roadshow team to explain the total brand immersion to bond valuers, insurers and investors. buyers. The company has obtained its AAA rating.
The system never had its 19.7 million passengers, but the station’s advertising and sponsorship programs have been powerful revenue generators. Pharris invited Nextel, General Motors, Monster Beverage Co., Bank West of Nevada and Paramount Pictures to the monorail closing party.
He persuaded Nextel to build the elevated Las Vegas Convention Center station straddling Desert Inn Road and make it an office showcase that LVCVA CEO Steve Hill praised at the meeting. of Tuesday’s board of directors, during which members voted 12-1 to approve the monorail. acquisition.
Pharris and Promethean were laid off in 2007 when Las Vegas’ economy and visitor volume headed south. The management of the monorail company felt that other companies could replicate Pharris’ model.
They could not.
But in an effort to keep some of the sponsorship and marketing magic of the past, Las Vegas Monorail President and CEO Curtis Myles reconnected with Pharris and his new company, Pharris Media, at the fall 2019. Pharris began to develop a wrap and a sponsorship. program for the monorail with a new focus on the monorail’s zero-emission environmental footprint.
Just as Pharris was on the verge of deploying potential customers, COVID-19 struck. The monorail was closed in March; the company’s death spiral began, and bankruptcy became a real option.
Potential income stream
It was then that Hill and the LVCVA entered the scene. Some of LVCVA’s biggest customers – major conventions and trade shows – love the monorail and the way it can drop thousands of conventioneers outside the door of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Hill sees the environmental value of removing thousands of cars from city streets during big shows.
Now the question is whether monorail train wraps and station sponsorships would be in play to become an LVCVA revenue stream? Before the monorail closed, Pharris was on the verge of signing sponsorship deals. He did not name the companies, but said they belonged to familiar industries – telecommunications, automotive and beverages.
With LVCVA in charge, Pharris’ client list could expand to include those with special promotional needs at specific shows – perhaps tech and gadget companies during CES, for example.
One of the main reasons LVCVA acquired the monorail was to scrap a non-compete agreement that would have banned competing transit systems from operating east of the Strip against the monorail. The Boring Co. and its underground transportation system may hold the key to solving some of southern Nevada’s transportation problems.
Would it be possible for Pharris to exchange monorail train skins for skins on Teslas, The Boring Co.’s vehicle of choice? Is there potential for thematic and income-generating underground drilling stations across the valley?
It looks like LVCVA executives will have at least a decade to think about it.
Hill said LVCVA was not interested in investing $ 200 million – in fact, it could be closer to $ 180 million with nine monorail trains costing $ 20 million each – to modernize the fleet in eight to ten. years. Maybe that will change if monorail trains are suddenly viable ad revenue generators.
Hill said he would be receptive to alternative modes of transportation along the monorail infrastructure. Is it too crazy to consider converting the monorail’s center beam to flat road surfaces that Teslas could use in stand-alone mode?
This could certainly preserve the convenience of connecting the city’s main convention centers in a single lane and could, if extended, provide an easy new direct route to the Allegiant Stadium.