28 November 1994
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Making a Splash in the Orient

Making a Splash in the Orient – PDF (10.8 MB)

Las Vegas Sun

Making a ‘Splash’ in the Orient. A Hong Kong-based company is trying to add Las Vegas to a multimillion-dollar entertainment deal.
By Richard N. Velotta

When it was announced that “Splash,” the nine-year-old production show based at the Rivera, had made a stage debut in Japan over the summer, there was scattered applause from the Las Vegas community.

True, the show had already won a number of accolades-Las Vegas Show figures breaking the 4 million mark; an attractive lead dancer who had performed on film for Hollywood in Delia Sheppard; enough appeal to open a similar show in Northern Nevada earlier this year at the Reno Hilton Theater.

Then, “Splash” made a splash in a foreign land. When that happened, state government officials recognized some potential in generating greater interest in the Silver State from the Pacific Rim. Through the Nevada Commission on Economic million export deal on the show produced by Jeff Kutash.

“Splash” opened Aug. 1 in Metrohills Resort outside Osaka, the first Las Vegas show to play in a foreign country.

Now, Kutash is evaluating offers to take “Splash” to Australia and the People’s Republic of China. For the latter, the show’s new medium will be television.

THE BIG PICTURE

International Techno Marketing’s Pacific Rim entertainment strategy: Plan concerts, special events and broadcast programming to aid in the development of new artists and support for established artists in both Asia and the United States. Other American music and entertainment formats will be introduced to the Asian and Middle Eastern markets-jazz from New Orleans, country music from Nashville and production shows from Las Vegas. Entertainment venues will be built in key Asian and Middle Eastern markets to showcase music and entertainment events. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is Cleveland will be marketed as the base for an Asian-American cultural exchange and destination point for the Asian market. Entertainment tour packages will be developed for Graceland at Memphis, the Grand Ol’ Opry at Nashville, Bourbon Street in New Orleans and the Strip in Las Vegas. Cleveland’s Agora National College of American Music will be marketed as a point of exchange and an educational destination point for the Asian market.

And, if Hong Kong-based entrepreneur’s vision of the future of the enterprise is on target, Las Vegas stage shows will become one component in one of the largest entertainment marketing plans ever attempted. Jack Craciun III, the 47-year-old chairman and chief executive officer of International Techno Marketing, has been meeting this month with Southern Nevada show executives and entertainment marketers to explain his proposal, called the Pacific Rim Broadcast-Entertainment Enterprise. Craciun has assembled a team of broadcasting, communications, promotion, finance, management and production professionals over the past two years to develop the delivery of American music and theater to China and Southeast Asia. With deals in hand and in negotiation, Craciun has the potential of reaching 2 billion people via satellite. He’s telling potential backers that the “Splash” show could be seen on as many as 400 million television sets in Asia. He isn’t shy about explaining what kind of potential advertising sponsorships exist for an audience of that magnitude. “The way I look at it, I’m opening the door to Asia for my children,” said Craciun. “The United States has put the technology to reach these people in place. There are a billion consumers in Asia waiting to get a look at American products.” While Craciun is making a strong pitch for marketing shows- and Southern Nevada as a tourist destination- in his local presentations about the Pacific Rim Enterprise, Las Vegas is only a small portion of ITM’s big picture. In addition to Las Vegas shows, Craciun wants to put American music-rock, country and jazz-into Asian homes. He wants to promote and sell live concerts. He hopes to set up tours for Asians to Las Vegas, Nashville and New Orleans.

Craciun also recognizes satellite technology as a two-way conduilt. In addition to exporting American culture to the Pacific Rim, he hopes to bring music and shows from Asia to the United States. He’s already made some contacts with radio stations in American cities with large Asian populations to take delivery of shows produced overseas. In Hong Kong, Craciun represented Leon Lai-Ming, a Pacific Rim pop idol, in a successful tour that included two concert sell-outs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Lai-Ming’s first 12 albums went platinum- 1 million sales each. That wasn’t Craciun’s first brush with successful recording deals, having steered the Fifth Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away” and Vicky Carr’s “It Must Be Him” to the American public earlier in his career. Coming from a radio background in Ohio, Craciun developed syndication interest abroad in programming from a Cleveland radio station, WENZ-FM. The show is sold as originating from the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, the home of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and will be delivered Friday or Saturday nights to an estimated audience of 400 million in Taiwan, Hong Kong, southeast China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Establishing the radio programming by early next year is the first step in Craciun’s master plan and he’s encouraged by a recent survey that showed radio listenership up 20 percent over the previous year in Hong Kong. Survey Research Hong Kong. Survey Research Hong Kong estimated 4 million listeners-about 76 percent, to about 17 hours a week. Government officials analyzing survey results said variety in programming was responsible for the increases. And variety is what Craciun plans to offer more of. One of ITM’s broadcast experts is Craig Quick, chief executive officer of Metro Broadcast, which delivers three channels of formatted radio, including a pop station, to Hong Kong. Craciun and “Splash” producers aren’t the only business to recognize the marketing potential of the Pacific Rim. Earlier this year, MGM Grand announced it is investigating the development of resort properties in the People’s Republic of China. MGM received a letter of understanding allowing the company the right to explore marketing potential. The company is using the opportunity to investigate Haikou as the site of a locals-oriented resort and Sanya � a location often compared with the Hawaiian Islands- as an upscale tourist destination.

Craciun also is working on a potential deal involving a Chinese theme park with a Las Vegas connection, although he said he couldn’t announce specifics until all sides are closer to completing negotiations. While most analysts praise companies that are looking into potential in China and the Pacific Rim, they’re also urging caution. They point out that while markets are opening rapidly, political upheaval could close those doors just as quickly. Craciun isn’t as concerned about politics, since delivery of his programming by satellite offers minimal risk to sponsors. It’s also his perception that current events in China are on a course similar to those preceding the fall of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe.