The trip to Vegas was a purposeful one. We had gone with the intention of vetting new products for the coming spring. But while our days were filled with walking the floor of the trade show, making deals and signing contracts, our evenings were free.
Our party was heavily weighted towards the female end and, after visiting Caesar’s Palace and the fountain out front of the Bellagio, we decided it was time to allow the one guy in our group to choose a destination.
“I’ve heard that there’s a really good pirate show,” he excitedly volunteered. Pointing down the road, he drew our attention to two large ships sitting motionless in a pool outside of yet another casino.
We all agreed and began making our way toward the boardwalk, which was quickly filling up as patrons staked out their “seats” for the event. Soon we, too, had selected prime positions and it wasn’t much longer before we discovered we’d be stuck in those positions for the next hour. I crouched down to rest my back and buy a little extra room (I’ve never been particularly fond of tight spaces and was even less so on this particularly warm evening), and waited.
The show began with cannon fire between the two ships – one of which was crewed exclusively with men and the other with scantily clad women. It was clear that all of us felt a bit awkward about the situation. And, as we watched, the show got progressively worse. It quickly became evident that there was an overarching dominatrix theme and, though our buying team was ready to leave, there was no quick avenue of escape. So we did the only thing which came naturally to any of us: we stared at the planks of the bridge, our faces growing redder and redder as we awaited the conclusion of our torment.
I finally couldn’t take it anymore and began pushing people aside as I slipped through the pressing crowd on a lengthy journey towards the sidewalk. My escape finally complete, I stood and waited. I heard the pirate ships sinking (something I’d have appreciated seeing under other circumstances), then watched as the crowd began to disperse. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the sensation of my body temperature returning to normal.
Leaning against a barrier, I watched as a couple walked past. The woman was clearly angered by what she had just witnessed and her husband, following her from behind was begging for mercy. “Honest, honey, it wasn’t like that last time!”
“I didn’t know it would be like that,” my coworker said, as the rest of the team joined me on the sidewalk. “I’d just read that they sank a pirate ship.” His embarrassment was evident which, of course, meant that the story would be retold over and over again, to the excessive gratification of those of us who were equally culpable for the mistake.
So why retell the story now, years later? Quite simply to make the point that advertising, while often appealing, isn’t always truthful. What happens in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas at all. Instead, it comes home with your coworkers and haunts you forever. That, alone, is a good reason to look before you leap… or at least take the time to do a bit of research before attending a show about pirates. Arrrrrrrg.