During the Grammys last Sunday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) debuted a new slogan: “What happens here, only happens here.” But, in deference to the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, the tourism group and its agency, R&R Partners, opted to stay away from planned activations that night.
Instead, the LVCVA announced that it will run an ad in the pregame show for Super Bowl 54 this Sunday. This marks the first time the city will advertise during Super Bowl programming and shows its evolving relationship with the NFL. The decision by the Supreme Court to open the door to sports betting in May 2018, Las Vegas’s upcoming plans to host the league’s draft in April, and, most importantly, the arrival of the Raiders to Las Vegas from Oakland signal friendlier times.
“This is a partnership that continues to grow and is another big reason the destination is a mecca for sports fans, who flock to Las Vegas every year for an experience that only happens here,” said Steve Hill, CEO and president, LVCVA.
The ad itself is a cutdown of the 60-second commercial that ran during the Grammys and stars Las Vegas artists-in-residence Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera and Aerosmith. It also showcases Lady Gaga’s bandleader Brian Newman and UFC heavyweight fighter Francis Ngannou. There will also be several activations that had been initially planned to take place last Sunday, mainly digital and social activations wall-to-wall in Vegas.
Ready with a war room, the original plan was to go big with the new slogan. It included a massive social media presence and marquee takeovers, including at the Staples Center, where fans had started gathering earlier in the day to mourn the loss of Bryant and the others involved in the helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif.
“There’s really no playbook for a tragedy like this,” said Billy Vassiliadis, principal and CEO of R&R Partners. “Steve [Hill] came down, I gave him a read on the situation, and he said, ‘Let’s pull it.’”
In place of a celebratory night during the Grammys, the city pivoted to sharing messages of condolences to Bryant and all of the families impacted by the accident. It was a show of unity in Vegas, especially since Southern California has a unique connection to the city as it grew over the decades.
“We consider Los Angeles family,” Vassiliadis said. “They helped us build this community, and a significant number of Las Vegas residents have moved here from Southern California.”
R&R Partners, part of WPI’s network, has been working with the LVCVA since the ’80s and is responsible for the iconic “What happens here, stays here” slogan that launched in 2003. However, according to reports, the LVCVA’s business is up for grabs. But, according to Vassiliadis, there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.
“The contract expires in June, and it’s a public contract,” he explained. “As [the LVCVA is] a governmental entity, they need to go through a public process. The board is obligated to publicly review, renew, RFP … it’s their decision.”