The swirl of presidential candidates has had me thinking about optics.
In this era of short-attention-span theater, we have grown acutely aware of staging — both the good and the bad.
For example, it’s hard not to think of George W. Bush without conjuring visions of that misguided “Mission Accomplished” banner celebrating success in Iraq.
It would seem Las Vegas would be a rich buffet of choices for visual packagers.
This cycle, we’ve been treated to Donald Trump packing the South Point arena; Chris Matthews squinting in the sun outside New York New York while a host of other anchors jockeyed for position along the Brooklyn Bridge or over at Container Park.
We’ve had news video and commercials showing candidates interacting with Nevadans.
Bernie Sanders won the award for best musical choice for his ad using Simon and Garfunkel’s “America.” Never mind that the song predates most of his backers by at least a decade.
But in the end, the optics didn’t favor Las Vegas.
Sure, there were establishing shots showing a hotel here or an overall Strip shot there, but there wasn’t anything that seemed to capture the energy of the city. It felt like there was a conscious effort not to show any image of gaming or the reason we’re known as the Entertainment Capital of the World.
At one point, the MSNBC set was a fake lounge area somewhere at Caesars. No patrons in sight. No staff. No sounds of fun. No way to ID the hotel if they hadn’t told viewers.
Overall, it felt a lot like a missed opportunity to showcase the city. For all the attention, we looked like any other place where the sun is shining and politicians are campaigning.
The good news is the cameras will be back. As one of the few states seemingly in play this election cycle, we’ll be getting more candidate and media attention come fall. Maybe spending a little time figuring out ways to showcase what makes Las Vegas special would be a sound investment.
Solar City optics
A different kind of optics were at play when the Governor’s Office of Economic Development announced it was sending a $400,000 payment to Solar City for its progress on creating jobs. The item has been the featured item on GOED’s website.
This is the same Solar City, fresh off laying off its sales and installation units, that’s threatening to leave Nevada. It’s busy mounting a campaign against Nevada, its governor and the Public Utilities Commission as a regime hostile to solar energy.
While the lawyers are correct in saying Solar City had met the terms of its Catalyst Fund agreement to create jobs by moving its financial services center to Las Vegas, calling attention to the Solar City situation just seems like dumb public relations work.
Handing money to somebody who’s declared war on you just doesn’t pass the optics test.
Pay the money owed but don’t celebrate what appears to be a loss, not a victory.
A third payment of up to another $400,000 is due June 30. Let’s see where we are then and hope we actually have a success to celebrate by then.