Media company makes deals with local municipalities

For Chad and Kate McCullough, being in business is a wrap.

The Las Vegas couple owns Elite Media, an outdoor advertising company, and they consider themselves pioneers in Las Vegas for building wraps and wallscapes with the advertisements you see around town.

Whenever a major convention is in town, Elite covers the walls at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel and Las Vegas Marriott. It also handles the Las Vegas Monorail.

The McCulloughs, who moved to Las Vegas in 2004 from Southern California, are continuing their pioneer status in the digital billboard business on municipal properties.

In 2014, Elite installed its first sign on Las Vegas property as part of a revenue-sharing agreement. Today, Elite has five signs on city property and has generated about $150,000 in revenue for Las Vegas since.

Elite, which has one other digital billboard on private property, unveiled a similar venture Sept. 27 with the city of North Las Vegas with a digital sign at Craig Ranch Regional Park. The signs are called Parquees as a reference to a marque in a park, and they will expand to other city sites in North Las Vegas, possibly as early as this year.

Elite’s clients have been requesting digital advertising locations in North Las Vegas, and due to strict regulations there have been no opportunities until now, according to Elite President Chad McCullough.

“This is a wonderful revenue opportunity for the city,” North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee said. “We have seen the success of the city of Las Vegas Parquee program, and we’re happy to have Elite as our local media partner.”

Elite, which was named a small business of the year in 2015 for Nevada by the U.S. Small Business Administration, celebrated its 14th anniversary Sept. 20. Elite has five employees, including the McCulloughs.

It’s a venture the couple started in 2002, when it sold advertising on a nightclub wall on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. One of the advertisers, clothier French Connection, wanted the same in Vegas.

“They had a store in the Miracle Mile Shops and wanted an ad on the exterior, and that’s how we got to Vegas,” said Kate McCullough, the company’s chief financial officer.

Before starting the business with his wife, Chad McCullough worked on the large-format print side of the business. Kate McCullough worked as marketing director for an environmental engineering company.

Realizing the money was on the advertising side of the business, the couple found a Chinese partner and in 2001 wound up with the exclusive rights for wallscapes and building wraps in Shanghai, China. The couple sold their interest in the venture in 2002 because of a desire to raise a family in the U.S., and now they have two children, Grace, 10, and Dylan, 9.

The couple got a contract with the Miracle Mile Shops to put up signs around the exterior of the retail mall, and that ultimately led the couple to find their niche in the convention business putting up the short-term ads around the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“Nobody was doing it back that,” Kate McCullough said. “Now you see them all over the casinos. What we do is for third-party advertising and advertisers who want to pay to be on a building.”

During the NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas in 2007, Elite wrapped the Luxor with ads for Adidas. Some of its other big national clients include T-Mobile, Samsung, LG, McDonald’s and Red Bull.

The couple ultimately saw an opportunity in digital billboards on municipal property that would bring revenue to the cities. The deals with the cities are for 30 years, and Elite is responsible for building and maintaining the signs. The city of Henderson and Clark County Fire Department are considering similar deals, she said.

The digital billboards give advertisers another option to sell their brand, products and services.

“The reason people love digital is they can change their message within minutes,” McCullough said.

In addition to its seven digital billboards, it has five traditional billboards.

The wall wrap side of the business, meanwhile, remains strong, McCullough said. Not only does Elite handle the area around the Las Vegas Convention Center, but it does the same in Orlando and Phoenix, where it also does taxicab media. It also works on behalf of national clients who want a presence at big events of the NFL, MLB and NBA.

Clients want to dominate a convention with their brand and let convention-goers know it before they walk in the place, McCullough said.

The wraps can start at $25,000 over seven days for smaller wraps and reach as high as $500,000 for the same period to cover the Renaissance on three sides.

“A large wrap that costs $500,000 for advertising has about half of the cost tied up in the production and installation of the material itself, McCullough said.

“What we do is a part of the city and economy,” McCullough said. “These companies are spending a lot of money on big booths at conventions, and so these are ego buys. We’re helping out conventions because not every convention center does it.”

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