mbrose So Shu Fai, SJM’s chief executive, acknowledges however the power of the initials ‘SJM’ as well as the name ‘Lisboa’ in the market locally and with international customers. “For over 40 years customers have associated the Lisboa brand with Macau tourism and entertainment,” Mr So told the magazine.
SJM Holdings controls both the Grand Lisboa and the Hotel Lisboa casino-hotels. He says even the gaming operator’s name is appealing to customers. “SJM is a key brand for us, as is Lisboa.” However, the gaming operator is undecided about using either name on its Cotai casino resort, which will include Asia’s first Palazzo Versace hotel.
Were SJM also to eschew even the use of the word ‘Cotai’ in its new property there, it would pose an interesting challenge for marketing and branding consultants, given the consumer recognition of ‘SJM’ and of ‘Cotai’.
Only one concessionaire so far – Las Vegas Sands– has incorporated the word ‘Cotai’ into a casino resort name; namely the us$ 4 billion-plus Sands Cotai Central. The company has also made legal efforts locally to incorporate the name ‘Cotai’ as a trademark in some of its branded services.
The name Cotai did not start life as a branding – being a conflation of the names Coloane and Taipa and indicating the uniting of the two islands via a landfill causeway that eventually created a seamless join. But the efforts of LVS to trademark in Macau several brands using the words ‘Cotai’ or ‘Cotai Strip’ as part of its marketing strategy have so far been challenged successfully in Macau courts. Market rivals Melco Crown Entertainment and Cyber One Agents – an entity in the Studio City project majority owned by Melco Crown – have both opposed such trademarking.
Galaxy Entertainment Group avoided the name ‘Cotai’ when it created branding for its flagship Cotai project, choosing the term ‘Galaxy Macau’ instead.
Wynn Resorts’ plan for a us$ 4 billion Cotai resort was commonly referred to by the media as ‘Wynn Cotai’ in its early days. The company also used the term ‘Wynn Cotai’ in a gaming investment forum presentation in September 2012. But in late July this year, the firm announced it would instead be known as Wynn Palace.
MGM China Holdings talked about ‘MGM Cotai’ in a press release on February 27 this year when describing its own “approximately HK$20 billion” new resort. But whether that working title will stay as the project moves nearer to completion in “early 2016” – a timing it reiterated in a Hong Kong filing in October – remains to be seen.