I see.

The Biggest Food Fight in America

I’m on the plane flying back home to LA after an absolutely awesome weekend away. It was jam packed with things going right, tons of fun, a great show and making some beautiful memorable images.

My client, Twelve Horses North America handles all of the online marketing and branding for the Cal Neva Hotel and Casino, and I am responsible for photographic coverage of one big event every month. This gives me the opportunity to fly back and forth from Los Angeles to Reno and make a little money on top of that. It’s also nice because my fee from the event coverage allows me to cover the cost of my ticket so that I can photograph projects for other clients. This trip was no exception, and I worked with St. Pierre Creative to make some new marketing images for their design firm. It was so mch fun. I love those guys, and they were an absolute pleasure to work with.

La Tomatina en Reno was an event cooked up by the marketing pros at Twelve Horses and some of the great people from the marketing department at the Cal Neva. It was inspired by the original Tomatina festival in Valencia, Spain. In the past Cal Neva has had some Bikini Jello Wrestling events that have been wildly successful, and generated some great traffic on their blog, website and flickr account. In fact, my images (along with some great keywording from 12 Horses) drew 7,000 views in the first day they were posted! And it was a SUNDAY! To date the photographs from this event have driven (insert big number) impressions for Cal Neva. Talk about some exposure!

Cal Neva didn’t really have a brand strategy before, and they have been using traditional marketing tactics up till about 2 months ago. As a result of their collaboration with Justin Sullivan Photography and Twelve Horses they are crafting a new visual brand identity as well as seeing the realization of who they are as a brand: Celebrators of the “uncelebrated”, the locals spot where the staff knows your name and what you like, and the place where everyone can feel comfortable, whether they are the beautiful people or not.

The tomato fight was ridiculous. Hands down the craziest, most bizarre and hilarious spectacle that I have seen in years (yes that includes burning man). 50,000 pounds of tomatoes were donated by Scolaris and dumped in the plaza where the Mapes Hotel used to stand. Participants paid a $10 entrance fee, 100% of which went straight to fighting cancer. An astonishing number of people came out to support this charity and throw tomatoes at each other. Once they got the go ahead, it was pure mayhem, and it didn’t stop for over an hour. It didn’t even slow down!

Cal Neva will be hosting this event again next year, and the plan is to bring in 100,000 or 200,000 pounds of tomatoes! The New York Times and the LA Times both had articles promoting La Tomatina in Reno, and USA today has a related article as well. The event was a resounding success, and hopefully further coverage will help put Reno on the map.

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