What Happens Here, Stays Here.

What’s 11,688 people strong, has 670,200 likes on their Facebook page and 7,292 views on their YouTube video?

Give up?

It’s the “Know the Code” campaign created by the Las Vegas tourism department. It’s essentially an anti-social media push in certain circumstances. Of course, Vegas tourists want you to Tweet/Facebook about their restaurants, casinos and entertainment but warn against taking photos of people and sharing them through the same social media facets. They even have a place on their Facebook page where you can “Report those who violate the code” through their Facebook page.

I first saw a video on TV and as I dug into it more, I thought it was interesting that the Vegas tourism department used social media to encourage visitors NOT to use social media. Further more, they created rules about what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to Facebook-ing, YouTub-ing and Tweeting.

I think this campaign is successful for a couple different reasons:

  1. It creates buzz around Vegas and buzz equates to more visitors. More visitors create more dollars.
  2. It demonstrates that Vegas is still a “cool” place to visit and shows that they understand issues and challenges that their audience faces. Not only do they understand their problems, they’re proposing a solution.
  3. It created interactivity for participants rather than just allowing the audience to view their site. Audience members can sign an oath, respond to Facebook messages and Tweet “#knowthecode.”
Here’s one of their promotional videos:

Additionally, their web site has some interesting elements that help “humanize” it by calling out individuals who have broken the code. Now, weather these people are actually “real” is another matter all together but I definitely appreciate the effort. See left for an example.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In Digital Literacy, Spilka talks about combining “rhetoric” and “technology” and I think this is a perfect example of the melding of the two. Essentially, the tourism department is trying to promote Vegas through a round-about campaign that not only says “visit Vegas” but also says, “We want to keep Vegas a safe place where ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ still applies despite the advances in technology.” Additionally, Qualman states that “people value the opinions of other people” and I believe this campaign relies on that type of thinking. This campaign boasts the accountability factor that by “knowing the code,” you’ll hold others accountable to do the same. Granted, this is different than what Qualman means in chapter 5 as he is addressing socialommerce, but the bare bones principal that “people value the opinions of other people” holds true in this case.

Posted on October 23, 2011, in Social Media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I think the real issue here isn’t whether someone is caught having too much “fun” in Vegas. I think the vital point they make here is marketing. This is a continuation of prior campaigns that adds a twist. People who “know the code” are now initiated into a special club of secret Vegas visitors. They now have the power to not only maintain this secret society, but also to help others by “ratting” out those who break the code.

    How interesting. And this is all centered around an atmosphere of legal gambling and prostitution – very interesting.

    • It’s interesting that there is a “code of ethics” even in an area of what some would view as morally wrong.

      At the end of the day, they’re marketing Vegas and they’re keeping it at the forefront of their audience’s mind, which is key. Additionally, they’re creating hype by making the campaign interactive.

      Thanks for the comment, Robin!

  2. The whole “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” has always come across as skeezy to me. I’m not a huge prude or anything, but I find the whole concept unsettling. It implies that you’re going to go off the hook and do something that you know is wrong. If it wasn’t wrong, you wouldn’t need to keep it a secret “in Vegas.” Since you’ll be far, far away from home, that makes it ok.

    I think that, when I was 19, my fellow study abroad students and I felt the same way. It was the first time off the leash, and we would go nuts. No wonder the locals hated us. Most of us outgrow that mentality, but I guess there’s Vegas for those who haven’t.

    The “Know the Code” campaign just adds to the “I want to throw up in my mouth a little” factor for me. It removes accountability. I think that’s what’s wrong with the whole concept. Sneak around, do something you feel to be wrong, keep it secret. As long as you don’t get caught, you’re good to go. Know the code makes it seem even seedier. Makes me want to go there even less than I did before.

    • Heidi, I couldn’t agree more! In a way, Facebook and Twitter were probably somwhat effective in holding Vegas-goers accountable…well, maybe not accountable but I’m sure it caused more than a few break-ups over what was posted on those social media sites.

      At the end of the day, it’s a marketing campaign and it’s generating buzz..and working! Since I wrote this post, over 2,000 more people have signed the “Know the Code” oath.

  3. Heidi,

    i think you are right that the what happens in “Vegas stays in Vegas ” is because whatever happened there is not good so it rather just stay there as a secret.

    Stephanie, On the point of Qualman, “people value the opinions of other people” I would agree and then add a three letter word “not” all people value other people’s opinions. I would’nt know in what contest he meant.

    Qualman states that “people value the opinions of other people”

  4. Stephanie—

    I like the Know the Code campaign because I’ve been doing it for years. On Facebook or Twitter, I never post photos of people because I’m not sure they want to be on there. I also do not like it when people post photos of me on social media sites. I don’t care what kind of photo they post because I don’t want any pictures of me on the Internet.

    I really hate attending wedding receptions now because of social media. Every time I go to a wedding reception, people are taking pictures and in less than a week, most of those pictures end up on Facebook. I’ll either be tagged in them or mentioned in a comment about them. I think this is one downfall of social media—it’s tough to control what people post.

  5. Great thought provoking post, Stephanie! Did you know “overshare” was Webster’s Word of the Year in 2008? See here: http://wordoftheyear.wordpress.com/overshare/ and make sure to watch the video!

  6. Thanks for pointing out the Word of the Year blog – I never knew there was something like that out there! I watched the video and it’s clear that “oversharing” occurs in many different situations and a lot of the examples related to social media. It would be interesting to know if we’re moving towards and “oversharing society” due in part by social media.

    • I asked my freshmen that very thing about “the age of oversharing” on their midterm exam and they all seem to think we are moving in that direction. They don’t seem to mind it either, so perhaps it will become second nature to reveal some information and mask other personal details….which would lead to more “performing” like Turkle noted.

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