"Harry's Naked Romp" fires publicity machine at Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

28 August 2012

LAS VEGAS -- For an investment of less than $200,000, the return has been just grand.

Last week, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released an ad campaign deploring the breach of the Las Vegas Code by a lout who sold photos of Britain's Prince Harry taken while he was engaged in a recreational pursuit on holiday.

One ad supports the fun-loving lad with a "Keep Calm and Carry On, Harry" morale booster in the style of a World War II propaganda poster, while another, looking more like a Victorian handbill, is headlined "FOR SHAME!"

"We are asking for a shun on these exploiters of Prince Harry," the broadside reads. "We shall boycott partying of any kind with them. No bottle service. No bikini clad girls. No Bucatini from Batali. In other words, we will not play with them anymore. WHO'S WITH US?"

Spot on, convention authority, spot on.

"With the buzz and coverage it generated all around the world, we are very pleased with the return on investment," authority spokeswoman Hetty Chang said in an e-mail Monday.

The campaign includes several elements of social media and production, and it builds on the recent "Know the Code" campaign scolding those who post Vegas trip pictures that embarrass their mates, or the odd royal, on Facebook or Twitter.

In case you've been living under a rock for the past week, the ads capitalize on publication of photos of a decidedly naked Prince Harry embracing an unidentified young lady in equally limited attire at what appears to be the conclusion of a spirited game of strip billiards in his posh suite at Wynn Las Vegas.

The convention authority bought a full-page in USA Today last Friday, ran the campaign at McCarran International Airport through the weekend and posted it to the organization's Facebook page. From there, it spread like wildfire.

And, apparently, so has interest in Sin City.

For the past week, Las Vegas-related searches on Hotels.com originating in Great Britain have been up 123 percent over the same period in 2011, said spokeswoman Taylor Cole.

Canadian-based Las Vegas searches for the same period are up 118 percent, and those originating in the United States are up 74 percent.

Cole said the rise in Las Vegas searches directly correlates to public interest in the site of what British tabloids like to call "Harry's Naked Romp."

Meanwhile, since the "Keep Calm" ad was posted on its Facebook page August 23, the convention authority has received 7,077 likes and 1,696 shares.

The authority added the "For Shame!" ad on Facebook on Friday and has received 805 likes and 115 shares.

In a statement released Friday, Cathy Tull, the authority's senior vice president of marketing, said this - and only this - regarding the campaign:

"Las Vegas is a place to celebrate adult freedom, freedom that even celebrities and royals can enjoy. For everyone's sake, it's important that 'What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.' However, in moments of enthusiasm, actually keeping memories in Las Vegas takes commitment. Today's ad was a cheeky reminder to all our visitors that it's important to 'know the code,' and most importantly, 'protect the code.'"

The airport ad run is scheduled to end today.

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