The Reno-Tahoe area has been undergoing significant change and growth since the Great Recession. And now regional tourism officials are hoping a new multi-million dollar brand campaign can help keep the momentum going.
Ambition. Grit. Adventure. These are all themes that make up the new Reno-Tahoe brand, called "Great Contrast." It's all part of  multi-million campaign funded by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, which tourism officials hope will bring more-and younger-people to the area.

Jennifer Cunningham is the Executive Vice President of the RSCVA. She says this new messaging is more than just a flashy logo. It's backed up by research into the coveted millennial audience. "They like excitement. They're kind of like adrenaline junkies," Cunningham says. "They just like something new and different and exciting all the time. And I think with the diversity of our destination, we can deliver on that."

But what does gritty really mean and is that a good thing? Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve thinks so.

"There was this negative connotation with Reno, right? And that's some of the reason why actually people like to come to this region," she says. "People have said, 'I like the grit that Reno has to offer.' So we're still trying to embrace that."
The campaign also uses art and photography featuring work from local muralist, Joe C. Rock. 

The marketing effort, which includes billboards, digital ads, and radio and television spots running in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Seattle.

For many who live outside of Reno, the Biggest Little City's image is a poor man's Vegas.

The campaign features big, bold text and colorful images aimed at attracting millennials, Gen X'ers, outdoor enthusiasts and people looking for a grittier but more authentic urban vibe. 

In addition to Tahoe, which is a staple of past marketing campaigns, the new marketing initiative will play up the area's arts and culture scene - including the Burning Man festival and the city's mural art - as well as its bustling Midtown and the high-profile companies that have moved or expanded into Northern Nevada.

"We should embrace that GRIT sometimes," Reno Mayor Schieve said. "We're the cool kids.

Ultimately, everything all comes back to the one issue that has bedeviled Reno through the years: image. Even with the arrival of Apple, Tesla and Google, how others perceive the region remains the biggest little problem for Reno tourism. A key difference in the latest campaign is embracing all sides of the area's true self, not just its alpine lake blues and mountain greens but it's rougher facets as well.
Kelly Richmond