Creating An Energetic Environment Through LED

by Katie Sloan

General Growth Properties partners with Daktronics to create a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience for Fashion Show in Las Vegas. The technology has applications for centers around the globe. 

By: Randall Shearin

Along the Las Vegas Strip, there is so much visual appeal that it is hard for any one building to stand out from another. When General Growth Properties (GGP) sought to draw more attention to its Fashion Show shopping center as part of a renovation and addition, the company wanted to highlight more engaging elements to take advantage of the center’s prime location along Las Vegas Boulevard.

Fashion Show is uniquely positioned along the Strip, adjacent to a significant number of the city’s five-diamond resorts; Wynn and Encore are located across the street, as are The Venetian and Palazzo. Catching eyes of those staying at those resorts — or those who have walked over to visit them — was top of mind for Fashion Show and owner GGP.

“We always knew that we wanted to do more with our front door to engage higher end visitors from these resorts,” says Janet LaFevre, Fashion Show’s director of marketing. “We wanted to position our front door to be more welcoming, lush and inviting so that we encompassed much more of a sense of place for visitors.”

At 2 million square feet, Fashion Show is the largest retail-oriented center on the Las Vegas Strip. The center is anchored by Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. It is also home to 250 stores, including many flagship retail locations in the city, including a new, 35,000-square-foot Zara store, and a flagship Dick’s Sporting Goods. The center also has 25 dining options, ranging from Capital Grille and Maggiano’s Italian Kitchen, to Kona Grill and Taco Maker.

“We are a destination that services many people — from luxury to fast fashion, and fine dining to fast casual,” says LaFevre.

Over the past 24 months, the center has undergone a major renovation that included redeveloping the center’s open-air plaza that sits along Las Vegas Boulevard. The project added 22,000 square feet along the Strip, incorporating spaces for sit-down dining, retail cabanas and state-of-the-art digital signage. It includes outside patios, landscaping and a walking path that allows pedestrian traffic from the Strip to walk through without having to enter the center. The new digital signage alone — while vertical — takes up 10,000 square feet. 

“We wanted to be able to showcase our offerings, brands and dining to the entire audience along the strip through our digital signage,” says LaFevre. “At the same time, we saw that our location coupled with the digital signage would be an advertising revenue generator for us. It would give us a dominant presence of excitement right on the Strip through communication and entertainment. Those are critical components for the success of any real estate along the Las Vegas Strip.”

In many ways, the digital signage is another tenant for the center. Taking up approximately 10,000 square feet — all of it vertical or suspended — the digital signage is a huge revenue generator and promotional vehicle for the center. In addition to showcasing the center’s tenants and activities, Fashion Show sells time on the signage to other brands and attractions. A recent campaign ran for Cirque du Soleil, who advertised all of its Las Vegas shows on the signage. 

One careful consideration for Fashion Show was the return on investment it would get for the digital signage. Like build-out for a tenant, planning went into how long it would take for the investment to begin to show a return. Almost immediately, Fashion Show began to realize that part of the success with the signage would be to not only assist in marketing products and attractions, but assist in their sales. For the Cirque du Soleil campaign, for instance, the center also made tickets for any show available on-site so that interested consumers could immediately purchase tickets versus having to take another step to do so.

“ROI wasn’t everything with this project, but it is obviously very important,” says Jim Heilmann, Fashion Show’s senior general manager. “We wanted to have the best and brightest technology along the strip, which we accomplished, but we also wanted to create a media platform that wasn’t replicated in the market.”

General Growth has a sales team based in Las Vegas as well as a corporate sales team that works with national, regional and local advertisers to purchase digital content packages for the exterior and interior media. Fashion Show also contracts with two advertising agencies to create the custom content for the LED screens and other media at the center. 

“We realized that installing the signage is just part of the package,” says LaFevre. “We knew that programming it to take advantage of its unique capabilities would be the a big step in its success. Whether it’s our advertising, branding or mall retailers, we had to do more to engage the Las Vegas visitor. There are many entities that have worked on content generation and creation.”

The signage has come in handy to showcase the new retailers and restaurants at the center. Over the past 24 months, as it renovated, the center added 400,000 square feet of new, expanded or renovated retail. 

“We try to have a healthy balance of content about the center versus our retailers and restaurants and our advertisers’ messages,” says Heilmann. “We like to have a balanced mix so that consumers are not only seeing one or the other. We have messages we need to get out about the center as an entertainment platform, new retailers, and events in our great hall. All these are mixed in with advertisers’ messages to create a nice mix of content.”

The LED installation at Fashion Show included a number of components. The largest installation was built in the plaza area of the project along Las Vegas Boulevard. The area has an iconic architectural element known as The Cloud — an oval-shaped structure made of galvanized steel that is 128 feet high and more than 700 feet long — which is supported by two large columns. Fashion Show worked with LED display manufacturer Daktronics to create the unique digital signage at the center. The signage was built using flexible LED modules that wrap around each of the column bases of the cloud and a curved video billboard acts as the first major point of contact as pedestrians cross the bridge from the Wynn resort. The LED video installation on the south column is 58 feet tall, wrapping the column. The north column is 42 feet tall. Both columns, if laid flat, would be 80 feet wide, so the LED is quite dramatic in its effect. The center video billboard is 112 feet wide by 14 feet tall. All three displays run in synchronization so that the content can be spread over a wide area. In all, there are more than 4 million pixels, creating a high definition system. Two additional pylons, near the gateways to the center, are also equipped with LED video. 

“We are the leader right now on the Las Vegas Strip because of this new signage package,” says LaFevre. 

“Fashion Show needed a different solution for its LED package,” says Ed Wasserman, commercial spectaculars for Brookings, South Dakota-based Daktronics. “The center needed to be identified with additional branding to provide name recognition.”

Inside the center’s ‘Great Hall’, Daktronics also provided LED technology which replaced several older displays that were six feet tall by 39 feet wide. The three new Daktronics displays are 13 feet wide by 39 feet wide and have the capability to be lowered down to the Fashion Show runway where they act as a backdrop during live fashion-related events and dance performances.

Fashion Show’s new signage is helping the center to find new channels to attract customers and keep them entertained once they are at the center. 

“We are able to create programming that ties into events at the center, as well as events in Las Vegas,” says Heilmann. “Our tenants can also use the signage to promote their events and features.”

While Las Vegas may call for special installations, Daktronics has worked with so many regional malls that it has become the leader in the business. The company has worked with many owners to create a standardized display for their regional malls that many order for their center courts. A large-format LED screen that is approximately 18 feet tall by 13 feet wide that can rotate has been the preferred size. Daktronics has installed this type of LED in more than 40 malls across the United States today. 

“We’ve gone into a lot of center courts and created a one-size fits all large-format LED display,” says Wasserman. “It has been a hit with many owners; they are now able to sell third-party advertising, leverage it for marketing, and create unique content for the center, in addition to brand the mall and its tenants.”

Many centers are finding the standardized program so successful they are going back to Daktronics and requesting custom programs with larger or multi-screen LED systems. 

“We’ve done some amazing designs centered around the elevators at the inside of a number of malls,” says Wasserman. Daktronics works closely with centers to help them plan how to create a return on investment for the LED media. 

“At the end of the day, shopping centers want to help their tenants succeed, and they want to help create their own brand,” says Wasserman. “Today, they also need to entertain and engage their shoppers.”

A number of centers, like Oakbrook in suburban Chicago, have placed the LED screens in areas where they can be used to enhance live fashion shows and other entertainment related events. 

“These events bring new audiences and consumers to the center who weren’t coming before,” says Wasserman. 

At National Harbor near Washington, D.C., LED installations are used for movie nights and to broadcast live sporting events. Some centers partner with satellite or cable partners to broadcast the events.

“Some of these locations would not have an audience for these types of events,” says Wasserman. “The technology enables them to create an event around something that might normally keep traffic from coming to the center.” 

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