Michael Fuller lays out his N9NE Group plans
As we reported last week in our online edition (hey, we’ve got to get breaking news in somehow), Michael Fuller—local DJ, founder of the Foundation Room’s popular Godspeed Mondays and owner of MovingSun Studios—is the new corporate director of marketing for the N9NE Group.
The new job puts Fuller at the head of the privately held company’s marketing for not only Las Vegas, but also Chicago and Dallas. Currently open venues include N9NE Steak House, Rain Nightclub and Ghostbar ultralounge at the Palms, a Ghostbar in Chicago on the top floor of that city’s N9NE Steak House, and in Dallas’ under-construction Victory Park, another steakhouse, a Ghostbar on the top floor of the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences, Nove Italian restaurant and another cutting-edge nightclub. Meanwhile, Fuller will continue to hold a half-interest in MovingSun, his design and marketing firm which specializes in the Las Vegas lifestyle market; maintain his playful, loving relationship with Christina Trainor, star of MTV’s Real World Paris and now working at the Wynn’s hot nightclub, Tryst; and maybe even do some spinning as DJ Funkler.
Oh, and did we mention he was just named one of 2006’s 40 Under 40 winners by In Business Las Vegas, one of the Weekly’s sister publications? Not bad for a native son just 33 years old.
It was Fuller’s success with MovingSun that, in a roundabout way, brought him to the attention of Michael Morton and Scott DeGraff, the N9NE Group’s founders, as well as George Maloof, owner of the Palms.
“Leslie [Culler], the creative director at N9NE, used to work at MovingSun,” Fuller says one Sunday afternoon over a late lunch with Trainor at Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe and Lounge on Maryland Parkway. “First, they needed a website built, and then they went to a full-on web department. In the course of talks, it came out that N9NE was looking for a marketing director. Eddie [Franco, MovingSun’s director of operations] joked, ‘Well, just take Mike.'”
The closer the N9NE Group looked at Fuller, the more sense Franco’s off-the-cuff comment made, and it wasn’t long before the company offered him the position. Fuller says he didn’t take the offer lightly, especially given his responsibilities with the Foundation Room and MovingSun, whose client list includes Ice, Godspeed, Tabú, Club Renaissance and Light. But after, in his words, acing a series of interviews, he realized that “it really was a perfect fit,” given his background in marketing and club land.
“I’m taking a big chance stepping out of MovingSun but this was something I couldn’t pass up,” he says between passing plates of kabobs and pita sandwiches back and forth with Trainor and pulling a prank on her by unscrewing the cap to some hot sauce.
Even before his ass has hit his director’s chair, Fuller has begun work, laying out battle plans and strategies. “We want to be positioned as the leader of on- and off-line marketing,” he says. To achieve that end, he’ll spend the next two weeks doing audits of every department and venue, with an eye to updating wherever necessary.
“When I consult for a company, the first thing I do is tear apart all of their systems,” he explains. His sharp eye will be looking at utilizing different promotional media, how the club staff work the door, and even how bottles are presented at the tables. “Every little detail counts,” he says.
It’s a tight schedule, made even tighter by the N9NE Group’s upcoming rollouts: the Palms’ new pool area; Dallas’ Ghostbar and Nove; back to Vegas for the Playboy ultralounge and Moon bar, both in the Palms’ new Fantasy Tower; then back to Dallas for the nightclub (when asked for it’s name, Fuller gives a Jack Bauer response: “It’s still classified”). In the meantime, there’s still the existing operations in Vegas and Chicago to keep running, as well as hiring street teams, VIP hosts, event coordinators and “hot chicks.”
Regarding Vegas, Fuller makes one priority clear: recapturing the locals market. Since the airing of MTV’s Real World Las Vegas in 2000, in which the cast lived, worked and played at the Palms, the hotel-casino has had the luxury of coasting on its international notoriety. Though the casino floor is often full of locals, Las Vegans both in and outside of the club industry have not been flocking to Rain and Ghostbar, unwilling to contend with long lines full of tourists. In the meantime, other clubs have sprung up that actively court the locals market, and even the Ghostbar’s vaunted view is no longer the thrill it once was thanks to the Foundation Room, Mix and the Voodoo Lounge.
“They’ve never had to be on the attack” because of that success, Fuller says. As well as working to increase the nightspots’ reach into the Vegas market, he’ll plan a “local-centric” night and introduce added attractions to Ghostbar.
While completely aware of the mammoth workload, Fuller’s also confident of his success. “With unlimited support from George and funding, there’s no end to what I can do. … By 2007, the Palms will be the No. 1 nightspot in town.”