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California strikes back at Nevada ads wooing Golden State businesses

California Assemblyman Jose Solorio spearheads the response to Nevada's commercials, saying he was 'outraged by the nastiness of their tone.'

August 24, 2009|Tiffany Hsu

The Golden State won't let its businesses go easily, especially not to Nevada, if one California lawmaker has his say.

A week after the Nevada Development Authority ran a series of advertisements urging California companies to jump ship, Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) is retaliating.

"I was pretty outraged by the nastiness of their tone," he said. "It's one thing to compare states in a factual way, but when you're doing nasty ads veiled in humor which dehumanize Californians, that's over the top."

On Friday, Solorio launched his own offensive: a multimedia blitz of pro-California ads proclaiming that "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in California makes the world go 'round."

In the video, sweeping shots of state landmarks and a list of prominent California businesses including Gap Inc. and EBay Inc. are interspersed with arid images attributed to Nevada.

The spots will show up on newspaper websites, Google ad sites, Facebook and e-mails, as well as on cable channels in Los Angeles, Orange County, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Reno, Solorio said.

There's even a website -- CaliforniaIsGolden.com -- where he hopes staunch supporters will express their state pride. On the site, a gold medal stamped with "#1" is laid over a silver medal inscribed with "Not Even Close."

The publicity strike was inspired by a Los Angeles Times article about Nevada's TV, radio and print ads, Solorio said. The spots compared California legislators to monkeys and the state budget to flying pigs.

Solorio's response tries to put a positive spin on a "tough deal," said A. Somer Hollingsworth, chief executive of the Nevada Development Authority.

"I understand what they're going through, and I expected something like this," he said. "I'm not offended -- it's a good response."

Nevada's ads, which are scheduled to run for a year on a million-dollar budget, already have brought nearly 50 inquiries, Hollingsworth said.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "We must have struck a nerve."

Solorio wouldn't disclose the cost of his ads but said it would be significantly less than what Nevada paid for its "attack ads." The ads are being funded through Solorio's campaign committee.

Touting California's massive consumer base, sunny weather and progressive entrepreneurial culture, Solorio said the state's budget and tax problems and strict regulations should not be deal breakers for businesses.

Just to settle the score, Solorio also plans to run the ads in Nevada to encourage Silver State business owners to resettle in California.

"We're used to ads from other states trying to poach our business," he said. "But this time we strike back. We'll see how Nevadans like having aggressive ads in their state."

To be diplomatic -- "in the spirit of creating a collegial dialogue as President Obama recently did" -- Solorio invited Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman for dinner and a beer in Orange County, he said. Neither has responded.

"We should be talking about ways to collaborate on projects like a super-speed train," Solorio said, "rather than being so competitive."

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tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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