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Las Vegas slogan 'What happens here...' will join ad walk of fame

October 5, 2011 |  1:23 pm

What happens in vegas 
If you want to make Las Vegas residents roll their eyes, remind them that “what happens here, stays here.” It will only be the millionth time they've heard it.

The wildly successful marketing slogan is one of two that online voters chose this year to join the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The other: Capital One’s “What's in your wallet?" (If you’ve been to Vegas recently, not much.)

The ad campaign, which launched in 2003 and branded the Strip as an adult fantasyland, was the result of moms-gone-wild Vegas stories collected from focus groups and a national contest, the Las Vegas Sun reported.  “We got some toe-curling stuff,” Rob Dondero of R&R Partners, the firm that created the campaign, told the paper.

Copywriters rejected “If you go, you’ll know” and “Get in on the secret” before settling on “What happens here, stays here,” the paper said, which eventually morphed into "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Though tourism officials were initially wary of the campaign -- it featured no specific resorts, a huge departure for Strip marketing -- the cheeky ad barrage is widely credited with helping Las Vegas shake off the post-Sept. 11 doldrums.

Amid a recession that has devastated the Strip, tourism officials tried to shift slogans. But “Your Vegas is showing” and “Vegas right now” didn’t have the same oomph. “What happens here” returned.

The slogan has become so ubiquitous that one of its creators, Jeff Candido, told Las Vegas Weekly that his 4-year-old has a T-shirt that says, “What Happens in Preschool, Stays in Preschool.”

So locals probably are stuck with it for a little while longer. 

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Vegas welcomes the new Cosmopolitan, but will enough spenders come?

 --Ashley Powers in Las Vegas

Twitter.com/ashleypowers

Photo: Tourists line up outside the Bellagio In Las Vegas to watch the water show. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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