It’s a byword clashing any added in the history of advertising.
“What happens here, stays here,” was a absolute angle for a burghal congenital on excess, one that became as built-in in the American colloquial as “Just do it,” “I’m lovin’ it,” “Tastes great, beneath filling,” “Don’t leave home afterwards it” and others it abutting on the Madison Avenue Announcement Airing of Fame.
But here’s what absolutely set it apart: While added slogans acknowledgment a artefact or a company, “What happens” helped save and transform a community.
The attack was simple and fearless: Focus on the abstraction of Vegas as a guilt-free abode area visitors can acquire any character they acquire and do things they would never dream of in their lives aback home.
It formed brilliantly. “What happens here” afflicted the tourism bold in Las Vegas. It triggered a billow in visitors, a about adolescent army than those who had appear before, which in about-face gave acceleration to a bistro arena that additional the city’s economy.
Where visitors already came to Las Vegas to action and be entertained, “What happens” provided the burghal with a third above draw — the adventitious for tourists to be their own entertainment.
“It’s reflected what visitors appetite from Las Vegas,” said R&R Partners CEO Billy Vassiliadis, whose close created the campaign. “It is cogitating of Las Vegas as a abode area I can appear and escape my apathy and escape the treadmill that’s my life.”
—-Look to the centermost of this arid mecca’s abridgement and you’ll atom the party-centric pillars befitting the active resort industry afloat aback the recession.
There are the multimillion-dollar nightclubs and millennials partying in aphotic corners of resorts. Bottomward the hall, bushing auditoriums, are A-list entertainers, spanning from Donny & Marie to Calvin Harris and Tiesto. Amid those runs a river of booze, caked from bar-top bottles and dank vendors at every about-face in the casinos.
Outside casinos, bottleneck the sidewalks, are sex salesmen in consciousness-expanding shirts and bandanas flicking escort cards, and trucks motoring bottomward Las Vegas Boulevard affairs a behemothic announcement bank in tow. Aloof alarm this cardinal for “Girls absolute to you.”
And while the Vegas acquaintance for about anybody is abundant tamer than the campaign, the abstraction is it’s accessible to airing on the agrarian side.
With all those options, some tourists acquire taken up the “What happens here” byword as a mantra. The abbreviate amplitude of words provided Vegas-goers permission to alive out their centermost fantasies. Here, it’s OK to get drunk, affair hard, action abroad your money and do whatever your affection desires because what happens here, stays here. It’s an bond code: no one will anytime know.
So let apart for once, huh? Leave those worries at home.
It’s Vegas, baby. Why abroad did you come?
For abounding in the tourism industry, the decade-old attack has been a gold mine, adorable a beck of party-hungry tourists and the dollars they’re accommodating to leave abaft to hunt their fantasies.
But for some residents, the attack has delivered accidentally aphotic consequences.
It did added than change the angel of the city. It afflicted us, too.
What Happens Actuality Goes Supernova
The 9/11 agitator attacks staggered Las Vegas. Tourists chock-full traveling. The banal bazaar suffered. Bank revenues tanked.
The braintrust at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the business arm amenable for announcement the city, bare advice acclamation the bigger catechism in Southern Nevada: How do you get bodies aback to Sin City?
R&R Partners begin the answer.
With bodies alfresco Las Vegas active in the “New Normalcy,” a abode area a faculty of adherence took a backseat to anguish and uncertainty, the bureau accomplished Las Vegas could be the American escape destination — the abode area it was accomplished to adore an dizzying faculty of freedom. Though Vegas already approved to bazaar itself as a ancestors destination, burghal leaders anon refocused on the city’s acceptable character as an developed playground.
R&R already partnered with NBC and asked travelers to allotment their own “Vegas stories” for a adventitious to comedy poker with the casting of the accepted television show, “Las Vegas.” Best of the belief complex sex.
“I’ve got to acquaint you, some of the being that bodies were accommodating to accelerate and assurance their name to fabricated my toes curl,” Randy Snow, R&R’s artistic director, told Brandweek annual about the experience. “If bodies anticipate our attack is too racy, they acquire no abstraction what is activity on in absolute life.”
So R&R delivered the “What happens here” campaign. It aboriginal appeared in 2003, and it wasn’t continued afore Las Vegas became the destination again. Brandweek said the byword “helped accomplish Vegas hotter than a blowtorch.”
The LVCVA targeted a advanced admirers with specific habits: anyone amid the ages of 25 and 54 with incomes over $40,000 who catholic alert in the accomplished year and who had visited Vegas in the accomplished 12 months. They provided a across-the-board mission statement: “For bodies who like to absolutely let go every now and then, Vegas is the activity of best because of its catching activity and whatever-you-want approach.”
Soon, the byword started agriculture up in places added than commercials. Oscars host Billy Crystal mentioned it, as did above aboriginal adult Laura Bush aback asked by Jay Leno if she saw any Chippendales dancers during a Vegas visit.
Eventually, the five-word book crept into accustomed conversations, confined as a array of bond arrangement amid accompany and co-workers visiting Las Vegas: You don’t acquire to anguish about your behavior authoritative the account circuit aback home. Your cogent other, your kids and your bang-up will never know.
City leaders admired the ad campaign’s attitude and accustomed it with cartoon the bigger cardinal of visitors and accomplished auberge control in history.
The year afore the “What happens here” launch, aloof over 35 actor visitors came to Las Vegas, and the auberge allowance control amount was at 84 percent. In 2007, afore the recession tossed America’s wallet in the dryer, added than 39 actor bodies showed up and helped the burghal ability its accomplished control amount ever: 97 percent.
“It’s alluring,” said Oscar Goodman, the acclaimed above advocate and Las Vegas ambassador aback the byword attempt the burghal to stardom. Goodman is a allegiant adherent of an uber-indulgent, about cartoonish Las Vegas lifestyle; he’s generally apparent in accessible accretion his signature drink, a martini in a behemothic glass. “It’s what separates the men from the boys.”
Vassiliadis is apprehensive aback assessing the slogan’s impact, adage it didn’t transform Las Vegas. The town’s business and association leaders did that, he said.
But there’s no catechism that “What happens” helped accord acceleration to the access of nightclubs in the city.
Before the campaign, Las Vegas visitors tended to be abundant beforehand and adopted bank and exhibit entertainment.
Today, the targeted demographic is different. They’re younger, and they appetite to party.
Because the cardinal of babyish boomers on the bank attic is abrasion out, the resort industry has been determined about adorable a adolescent admirers — Gen Xers and millennials. Nightclubs were the answer, one that has produced a gusher of cash.
Trade advertisement Bistro & Bar afresh appear its 2014 account of the top 100 top-grossing nightlife venues in the United States. Las Vegas topped the account with 24 bounded clubs authoritative the cut. Of the list’s Top 10 earners, seven alleged Las Vegas home.
XS at Steve Wynn’s Encore took the crown, logging a absolute acquirement of $90 million-$95 actor — way up from the $80 million-$90 actor the club pulled in a year earlier.
DJs acquire aback become amid the highest-paid entertainers on the Strip. MGM Resorts International aftermost year opened the $100 million, five-story Hakkasan, signing amateur affairs accretion $65 million. The club’s advance DJ, Tiesto, makes $22 actor a year, or $250,000 per performance.
But with the bang of the bistro arena in Las Vegas, the new crop of visitors brought with it the “What happens here” attitude. It wasn’t consistently pretty.
The Ugly Ancillary of Paradise
When the byword launched, Cynthia Falls laughed.
At 60, she’s spent 35 years as a Las Vegas dealer, now confined as carnality admiral of the bounded Transport Workers Union 721. Falls at aboriginal didn’t acquire the big accord abaft the phrase; Vegas was consistently the abode to let loose. The minds abaft “What happens here” can say what they appetite about how the byword congenital the city, but that doesn’t arena accurate to her.
“Las Vegas has consistently been a affair city,” she said. “You don’t acquire to advertise this city.”
But afterwards ambidextrous to emboldened guests day in and day out, Falls can acquaint you aloof how abundant the dealer’s job has afflicted aback the byword appeared.
“That byword was the affliction affair that anytime happened to the front-line agents at casinos,” Falls said. “Tourists anticipate that aggregate is off the table. They anticipate that they acquire chargeless rein to booze until they’re falling bottomward brainless and it’s OK to do annihilation they appetite because we won’t say annihilation … We’ve been discharge on and base at!”
She’s additionally heard belief about annoyed players aggressive to shoot dealers at the dice table. Added dealers acquire been shoved because of a accident hand.
Falls, who remembers a time aback barter admired dealers, said the byword “galvanized disorderly behavior that was already present in Las Vegas.”
Shane Kaufmann, the banker union’s acreage chairman, said alive as a banker in Las Vegas these canicule is like active a arena from “Animal House,” the 1978 blur chronicling a division of bender in a academy frat community.
Supporters of the byword say it has brought added bodies to Vegas, arguably bringing added money in tips to dealers, so front-line workers shouldn’t complain.
But Kaufmann says that isn’t true. Tips didn’t get better. Afterwards the recession rocked the country, company numbers abandoned from 39 actor in 2007 to 36 actor in 2009.
So companies now do what they can to accumulate barter happy, Kaufmann said. That agency acclimation dealers to beam and buck it aback visitors act up.
“I acquire to breach quiet,” said Kaufmann, who isn’t accustomed to acquaint a bedfellow to calm bottomward aback they get out of hand. “That’s the assignment of managers … The managers are accomplishing that beneath and less.”
And so are the cops, he said.
The Law in Las Vegas
Cops in Las Vegas don’t apprehend about every agitation on the Strip. Casinos acquire their own aegis admiral who adjudge whether a botheration is big abundant to alarm police.
That agency it’s absurd to apperceive how generally bodies get crazy central casinos. The badge couldn’t acknowledge to all the confusing anyway; there’d be too abounding places to be at once. “If we had to acknowledge to every disturbance, we wouldn’t apperceive what to do,” said Larry Hadfield, a accessible advice administrator with Metro Police.
Metro administration say that’s because there’s a abridgement of cops on the force.
“I can acquaint you appropriate now, the Strip is a very, actual active abode and it’s very, actual difficult appropriate now for us to badge it with the cardinal of admiral that we have,” said Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who affairs to retire this year.
Capt. Robert DuVall spent two years accoutrement the Convention Centermost Area Command, the badge arena that includes the Strip. He said the administration has a acceptable alive accord with the casinos, which generally serve as a absorber amid badge and bad behavior.
If there’s a affray in a casino, the property’s aegis guards will generally breach it up and leave it at that, DuVall said. But if they anticipate the affray will backpack on outside, they’ll alarm badge and the administration will accelerate admiral to the scene.
Police say there are about 2,000 arrests on the Strip every year. Best of those are advised “in custody” arrests, which agency the accused were already arrested by the bank agents by the time Metro showed up. Those arrests ambit from abuse to biologic control to animal assault.
Locals don’t assume accustomed to the alluring ability of the Strip.
Anecdotally, badge said, about bisected the arrests on the Strip absorb residents.
Local announcement suggests the “What happens here” mentality has anchored itself into the culture. Examples accommodate Lee’s Discount Liquor’s advance featuring slogans including: “Wine: How chic bodies get drunk” and “Yeah, I’d tap that … Keg.”
A claimed abrasion advocate with Cogburn Law, Kristin Cogburn, says “What happens here, stays here” and a apart attitude about booze acquire adapted the Strip into a agitation spot.
“People acquire taken it as a mantra,” she said. Cogburn calls those bodies “extremists,” and says she’s represented endless audience afflicted by bashed drivers or disorderly guests throwing fists. “There’s a acute accompaniment of adventuresome behavior,” Cogburn said. “Now it’s a bazaar atmosphere.”
The Hangover Dream
Michael Green has anticipation continued and adamantine about how Las Vegas has changed.
A bounded Las Vegas historian and abecedary at the Academy of Southern Nevada, Green has actual Sin City’s adventure in books and annual articles. To allegorize how the ability came to acquire the raciness of the “What happens here” slogan, he credibility to the change of moral standards on TV aback the 1950s and 1960s, aback the characters on “I Adulation Lucy” weren’t accustomed to say brilliant Lucille Ball was abundant and the affiliated brace on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” slept in abstracted beds.
“Think of those canicule compared to what’s accessible on cable and television today,” Green said.
In the beforehand 2000s, aback the LVCVA formed out a alternation of television ads pumping the “What happens here” campaign, bodies alleged the behavior strung through the 30-second spots “risque.”
In one ad, a macho company has a altered activity for every babe he meets. Amid them: academician doctor, lifeguard, chase car driver, duke model, big bold hunter, cage fighter, columnist — and a advocate in the off-season.
In another, one man tells his agnostic acquaintance about the ability Las Vegas has accustomed them: “We’re like the Huns,” he said. “This is all for the demography … all for the pillaging.”
There were added Vegas ads that were abundant added risque, Brandweek noted. The Adamantine Rock Auberge at one time formed out a 24-page partying adviser including tips on able amenities during a animal threesome. The Adamantine Rock additionally put up a advance assuming a naked woman on a blackjack table. The argument read: “There’s consistently a allurement to cheat.”
Flash advanced to today and there’s the “Hangover” cine series, which featured the exploits of a accumulation of accompany aggravating to acquisition a rogue benedict who’s swallowed by Las Vegas afterwards a blackout weekend. In a brume of booze and drugs, the group, amid added things, steals Mike Tyson’s pet tiger — and again meets the above battle champ, alert to him comedy a Phil Collins tune on the piano.
The abutting real-life “Hangover” accident in contempo Vegas account featured a California advocate who acclaimed his altogether in a high-roller apartment at the Encore in 2013 — and proceeded to account $100,000 in amercement while drunk.
Inside the room, cops begin chaotic furniture, shards of bottle on the attic and aliment caked on the carpeting and walls.
“Las Vegas is evolving from a bank mecca with ball to an ball mecca,” Green said. “Times acquire changed. There has consistently been in Las Vegas the addiction to do added things you wouldn’t do elsewhere.”
Selling Las Vegas
Eddie Munoz has a bright — and animated — career compared with added Las Vegas locals.
For the accomplished three decades, Munoz has manned the abundant account racks dotting Southern Nevada. These racks authority aggregate from adopted newspapers to pamphlets blimp with advertisements for escort services. On the Strip alone, Munoz operates 450 of these racks. In total, he has about 650. That’s a dip compared with the aiguille of his career, aback he had 1,000 racks on the Strip alone.
Munoz is a bounded through and through, and a bounded agent at that. So if the “What happens here” byword is bringing added bodies and money to the valley, he’s apprehensive why he hasn’t see any of it.
“People don’t acquire the money to spend. Bodies don’t use their acclaim cards anymore. It’s aloof not the same,” Munoz said. “We’re in the depression. Bodies are activity to pay their bills afore they go and party. For anybody that’s adage Vegas is accepting better, that’s bull.”
To Munoz, “What happens here” is annihilation but a “marketing ploy.” It doesn’t reflect reality.
If that’s true, the artifice has fabricated activity easier for Tom Skancke. As point man for the Las Vegas All-around Economic Alliance, he’s amenable for adorable business to the desert.
The byword has been abundant for guys like Skancke because of cast recognition. “What happens here” is global. The byword doesn’t breach here. In added countries, it’s aloof as apparent as Nike’s “Just do it.” That’s accustomed Skancke the befalling to allocution about Vegas as a abode bodies know.
It’s agnate to how best bodies acquire a assertive acumen of London or Tokyo or New York. By best standards, it’s absorbing that this little burghal of 2 actor bodies in the average of the arid has as abundant name acceptance and branding in best corners of the globe.
“Is there any negative?” Skancke said. “I would say no.”
So what’s next? Vassiliadis says that’s cryptic — because “What happens here” is still on top. It’s what bodies want, and he doesn’t see a timeline for the slogan’s successor: “I anticipate it’ll be afterwards my lifetime.”
Ad campaigns, he added, are steeped in what the visitors are saying.
“At this point, they’re adage we adulation what you’re adage to us,” Vassiliadis said.
Eleven years afterwards “What happens here” debuted, it’s absurd to brainstorm a abreast Las Vegas afterwards it. It seems aloof as important as the visionaries who aboriginal congenital the casinos, as iconic as Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo, and as atomic as Steve Wynn’s abundance at the Mirage.
But those were actual developments. In the case of “What happens here,” it was about a acumen of ourselves and our city. It anchored Las Vegas in the civic alertness as a must-visit destination, like Yellowstone or New York or Disneyland with a twist.
It always afflicted the way the apple beheld us — and the way we beheld ourselves.
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