If you’ve turned into a news junkie since our most recent Presidential election, you probably noticed Las Vegas billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn stepped down from his post as Republican National Committee finance chairman, a job for which he was handpicked by President Trump.
Wynn created some landmark Las Vegas playgrounds including the Bellagio, the Mirage, and Treasure Island that have become brands unto themselves.
But after dozens of women accused him of decades of sexual harassment, the company’s stock tumbled. He resigned from the RNC and as CEO of Wynn Resorts. From a business and political perspective it seems like the thing to have done. I mention that because questions have been raised as to whether the recent allegations have hurt Mr. Wynn’s “brand.”
The answers is “no.” Calling someone who happens to be famous (or in this instance, infamous) a “brand” is a misnomer. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Wynn has a reputation he should be concerned about – clearly investors are – but he isn’t a brand, he’s a “founder.” Of – up til now – a very successful company but he’s not the brand. The hotels – now they’re the brands.
Las Vegas, where most of his hotels are located, now there’s a brand! And within the context of “brand,” Las Vegas is the “what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas” of brands!
Psychologists would suggest the concept of Las Vegas represents “freedom” for consumers that they won’t find elsewhere. And while the city has looked to create family-friendly zones, Disneyland it ain’t! It’s booze and broads. It’s Sinatra and the Rat Pack. It’s the embodiment of the 1977 song “Sex and Drugs, and Rock and Roll.” And gambling. And chorus lines of scantily clad (and unclad) women. It’s hedonism and eroticism and simultaneously a pretext and justification for bad behavior. So what works for the Las Vegas brand, doesn’t work for Mr. Wynn. His business partners may now question his judgment and trustworthiness, but that’s “reputation,” not “brand.”
Because the reality is not everything you know is a “brand.”
And to be crystal clear, “harassment,” bad, fantasy and dreams, good.
For some additional perspectives we invite you to read Janet Morrissey’s New York Times column, “Steve Wynn’s Tarnished Name and Now a Tarnished Brand.”
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