Just prior to the opening of Lucky Cat at the Cosmopolitan, a young couple peeked in the door for a closer look. Maybe they’d been beckoned by the 9-foot, chrome-finished cat perched on a pedestal atop synthetic grass. That whole enticing thing, after all, is a mastered centuries-old maneki-neko tradition. Or it could be that anything shiny in this town is bound to draw attention, regardless of the competition—particularly an item so ingrained with contemporary pop culture.
Housed in the scrupulously minimalist pop-up space off the hotel’s Strip entrance, Lucky Cat, whose reflective chrome exterior sets him apart from the usual feline talismans, is visually magnetic. After approaching the bulbous one, visitors press a palm against his raised left paw, then collect a fortune or gift that's printed from his collar tag. "You're right. You should quit your job to start that kitten farm" is not a bad bit of advice.
“We wanted to take this space and do something completely unexpected,” says Cosmo Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Marchese, while looking on at the interactive sculpture, a collaboration with Digital Kitchen and Storyland Studios. “We try to stay true to the idea that has made us successful. It’s sort of an experimental space.”
It’s not the first time the Cosmo has used this valuable piece of real estate for a free attraction. Following the closure of Dutch design store Droog, the hotel put in a pop-up wedding chapel for faux ceremonies and photo ops, followed by the free exhibit of Liberace costumes. Like P3Studio and artwork by Tracey Emin and Laurie Simmons on the hotel’s 65-foot marquee, it’s part of the Cosmopolitan’s branding efforts.
In this case, the maneki-neko, traditionally used to bring fortune to business owners, is marketed to bring fortune to visitors. But with the friendly cat smiling and beckoning guests from inside the vast room of floor-to-ceiling windows—a good-luck token in a town built on luck—it’s likely the hotel might see some fortune as well.