Fabulous Las Vegas (The Importance of Meta-Brand Meccas)

Spent last weekend in Vegas; my first visit.  It was an undeniably good time, but I could never fully escape the uneasy shine of so many false fantasies.  The silent scream of video billboards.  Straining eyes bloodshot with smoke after hours plugged into penny slots.  Over-starched shirts glinting on over-lit dance floors.  Stalled skyscraper sites dotted with black holes amidst the gleam of gold-glazed windows that tower over the trampled veneer of thousands of sex-worker trading cards scattered on sidewalks.

This is a town that thrives on faith in the viability of the utterly unrealistic.  On the idea that jackpot is one pull away, that ever-more opulent condos will sell, that “hot girls” are in fact attractive and do genuinely “want to meet you now.”

Calling it optimism would be too generous, and too positive.  Vegas is steeped in an unbridled, unapologetic spirit of rabid opportunity that is as endearing as it is deeply depressing.  You can call it the end of culture and lament the downfall of humanity, but it’s also the modern embodiment of the frontier mentality.  Vegas is a massive hyperbole borne of the collision between the idea of the American west and the cultural drive to consume.  And it’s a necessary hyperbole.  Las Vegas is a mecca; a mythical promised land whose legend quietly underlies every other act of material escapism and vain whimsy in the nation.

In that sense, the extravagance of Vegas is no less valid or culturally important than the unrealistic sparsity of Arcosanti or the improbable daydreams of Ecotopia.  Virtual or tangible, every meta-brand has meccas.  It’s not about replicating and scaling utopia to other places, nor is it a matter of coherently-articulated and centrally-led visions.  After all, like meta-brand green, Las Vegas is continually built and rebuilt at the hands of a decentralized crowd of participants.

Rather, the meta-brand mecca exists to be visited occasionally.  It’s a place for forgetting the daily struggle, satisfying unrealistic desires, and leaving with awe-struck exhaustion.  It is, at times, about blind hope in the face of stacked odds.

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thoughts at the collision of business, brand and creativity

I'm Ryan Cunningham. I help companies and culture play nice with each other. At CREATURE we call this Brand Strategy, a term that carries a nice halo of reliability and structure. Here, I'm just another guy who thinks about the world and writes it down from time to time.

The result is a pile of knowledge to be used in, and for, the future. Feel free to sift through the heap for useful connections.

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