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Published in Print: September 15, 1999, as Las Vegas Bets on Ads at Airport To Lure Teachers to Its Schools

Las Vegas Bets on Ads at Airport To Lure Teachers to Its Schools

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Teachers who like to try their luck in Las Vegas are the targets of a new advertising campaign designed to interest them in a career move that is probably less of a gamble than a night at the slot machines.

The fast-growing school district of Clark County, Nev.--which scrambles to fill more than 1,000 teaching positions each year--is hoping to catch the eyes of educators as they're hustling through, or whiling away the hours, at the city's busy airport.

"Elvis has left the building. We now have a vacancy at our school," reads one of four such signs now gracing the corridors of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

"They really grab your attention," said George Ann Rice, the assistant superintendent for the district's human resources division, who said she got the idea for the signs when she heard that almost 3 million people pass through the airport every month.

But school officials weren't the only ones who were concerned about finding qualified teachers for the 205,000-student district, the eighth largest in the nation. The airport authority donated advertising space, and some local ad agencies volunteered their time and talents to get the message out.

"Our whole belief is that education is very important, to recruit not only teachers, but those who are quality teachers," said Julie Kleinworth, an associate art director at R&R Partners, one of three companies in the city that worked on the project.

With ample references to Las Vegas' best-known attractions, the signs play off the city's reputation as a round-the-clock entertainment mecca. A solid-black background sets off the messages, printed in either white or yellow lettering.

"More career opportunities. More new schools. More all-you-can-eat buffets. Is this a great place to teach or what?" reads another sign.

Apparently, the signs are getting attention.

The district has already hired a few teachers who said they inquired about positions after seeing the signs, Ms. Rice said.

A Top Issue

The district originally came up with its own idea--pictures of children and the words, "We want you." But Ms. Rice said they probably were a little "busy."

That was when the advertising experts stepped in to offer their assistance.

"I know when I'm traveling, I want to get my bags and get out of there," Ms. Kleinworth said. "To find something that someone is going to read is a real challenge."

George Stamos, a copywriter at R&R Partners, thought up the wording for the signs, while Ms. Kleinworth developed the design. The company had worked with the district on past projects, such as bond issues.

A second company, Color Reflections, produced the images. And a third, FFE Associates, actually hung them in the airport.

When advertising space is available and is not being used by a paying customer, airport officials routinely donate space to public agencies, said Rosemary Vassiliadas, the airport's deputy director.

Along with transportation concerns, meeting the demand for teachers in Clark County is "certainly one of our top issues," she said.

There is now one sign each in Concourses A and B, and two in C. And Ms. Rice hopes to get another put up soon in the baggage-claim area--the most sought-after part of the airport for advertisers.

So alongside the ads to visit the city's newest hotel or casino, the captive audience of travelers awaiting their luggage may soon find offers to stay a lot longer than they planned.

Vol. 19, Issue 2, Page 5

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