R&R Partners

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R&R Partners
Type advertising, marketing, government affairs
Industry advertising, marketing, government affairs
Headquarters Las Vegas
Number of locations 9
Area served Las Vegas, Austin, Texas, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Reno, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, Mexico City
Key people Billy Vassiliadis - Partner/CEO
Mary Ann Mele - Partner/President & Chief Brand Officer
Randy Snow - Partner/Chief Strategic Officer
Jim King - Partner/Chief Financial Officer; Chairman, R&R Partners Foundation
Pete Ernaut - Partner/President of Government and Public Affairs
Bob Henrie - Partner
Products advertising, marketing, public relations, government affairs, research, media planning and buying, digital media, social media, broadcast production
Website http://www.rrpartners.com

R&R Partners is an independently owned advertising, marketing, public relations, and public affairs firm best known for the "What Happens Here, Stays Here" campaign, which promotes tourism to Las Vegas. The company is headquartered in Las Vegas, with offices in Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, California, Phoenix, Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah, Washington D.C. and Mexico City, Mexico, which opened in 2014.[1]

On June 23, 2008, R&R was one of 25 recipients of the Society for Human Resource Management Best Small Companies to Work For in America award.[2] In June 2008, R&R and the Southern Nevada Water Authority were awarded the Silver (second place) EFFIE.[3] R&R won a 2008 AdweekMedia BUZZ Award for the “Best seamless integration of a brand into a reality show” for an integration with ABC’s Carpoolers on behalf of Valley Metro.[4] Valley Metro provides public transportation alternatives for the greater Phoenix metro area.

One of R&R's largest clients is the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).[citation needed]


R&R Partners was founded in 1974 by ad man and political advisor Sig Rogich, who sold the agency to Billy Vassiliadis and Bob Henrie after directing the 1988 and 1992 Bush presidential campaigns.[5] As CEO, “Billy V.” as he is widely known, has diversified R&R Partners’ client base beyond travel and tourism to such sectors as energy, technology, telecommunications, public transportation, healthcare, entertainment and sports.[6]

Major Clients[edit]

  • Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) – The award-winning “What Happens Here” campaign is the overarching brand message for Las Vegas tourism both domestically and internationally. The TV campaign has run in the U.S. since 2003; in Mexico since 2008; and the United Kingdom since 2013.
  • Boeing – Web development that includes the Dream Pass, which gives users a virtual ride inside the cockpit of the 787, with a 360-degree, user-controllable view and audio from pilots, air traffic controllers and the airplane’s own audio warnings.
  • Western Digital (WD) – R&R Partners launched a global brand campaign for global technology leader WD.
  • MGM Resorts International
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines

"What Happens Here" ad campaign[edit]

The "What Happens Here, Stays Here" campaign was created by R&R Partners for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Launched in January 2003, it positioned Las Vegas as the first destination brand to make an emotional connection with the travel consumer, favoring Las Vegas “stories” over sunsets and golf courses. The first spot entitled “Mistress of Disguise” was named the "most effective" ad of 2003 by USA Today and the trade publication Advertising Age called it a "cultural phenomenon."[7] In 2004, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and R&R Partners were named Grand Marketers of the Year by Brandweek [8] for their work on behalf of the destination, the first time that both a client and their agency had won the distinction together.

In September 2009, the Las Vegas Sun looked at the longevity of the campaign, and Matt Schekner, executive director of Madison Avenue Advertising Week observed , “No city in America has marketed itself as well as Las Vegas. The slogan transcends the recession. The Yankees are all about winning championships and FedEx is all about trust. People go to Las Vegas to have a good time. It’s on message.”[9] Two years later, “What Happens Here, Stays Here” was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame, beating out such brands as Old Spice, Maybelline and Mr. Clean. [10]

Since its launch, the campaign has become a pop culture mainstay, with references to it on the {[Oscars]}, {[Saturday Night Live]}, {[Wheel of Fortune]}, and late night comedy shows including a mention by Former First Lady Laura Bush on {[The Tonight Show.]}[11]The phrase was used as the title for a 2008 movie 'What Happens in Vegas' starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher and most notably, it inspired the blockbuster movie series {[The Hangover]} starring {[Bradley Cooper}], [{Ed Helms]}, and {[Zach Galifianakis]}. [12]

Controversy with the LVCVA[edit]

R&R has been scrutinized by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, who reported findings of a 2007 internal audit by the LVCVA that discovered a subsidiary of R&R Partners overbilled the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority by as much as 43 percent.[13] Through public records request NPRI found that the LVCVA not only knew about these irregularities but literally gave R&R the rubber stamp to approve expenditures above $500 without any oversight from the LVCVA. NPRI stated that R&R's contract with the LVCVA was worth $87 million in 2008.[14][15] Keith Smith, board member of the LVCVA and CEO of Boyd Gaming, claimed in a letter to the editor that the particular overpayment cited by the Las Vegas Review Journal totaled about $2,000 and was already discovered by the LVCVA's internal auditor.[16]

William P. Weidner, President of the Las Vegas and critic of the LVCVA is also a board member of Nevada Policy Research Institute. According to LasVegasNow.com Mr. Weidner can direct policy for the group. NPRI officials have indicated that Las Vegas Sands Corp. is also a donor to the organization.[17] However on the same website, Steven Miller, vice president of NPRI claims that Weidner cannot direct policy because policy is directed by the consensus of a 13 member board and that Mr. Weidner was not present at any of the board meetings when it was decided to investigate the LVCVA.[17] Critics still question NPRI's motives because the Las Vegas Sands Corporation competes with the tax-funded convention center run by the LVCVA.[18] Steven Miller of NPRI claims, in an opinion column he wrote in the Las Vegas Review Journal, that this is a "red herring" to steer policy makers away from an external audit into the LVCVA's relationship with R&R partners.[19]


  1. ^ "Vegas markting firm goes international" by Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  2. ^ "McMurry, R&R Partners make best-places-to-work list" by Phoenix Business Journal, Phoenix Business Journal
  3. ^ "R&R Partners gets nod for water conservation spot" by Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review Journal
  4. ^ "2008 Buzz Awards" by Adweek, Adweek
  5. ^ "Power players creating Nevada's future today" by Nevada Business Journal, Nevada Business Journal'
  6. ^ "The Pied Piper of Las Vegas seems to have perfect pitch" by New York Times, New York Times'
  7. ^ Friess, Steve (2004-03-28). "A firm hits jackpot on Las Vegas ads". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  8. ^ "Playing for Keeps" by Mike Beirne, Brandweek
  9. ^ LasVegasSun.com
  10. ^ Huffington Post
  11. ^ USA Today, Advertising & Marketing. Michael McCarthy, "Vegas goes back to its naughty roots," April 11, 2005. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  12. ^ Hollywood Reporter
  13. ^ "LVCVA, ad agency defend deal" by AD Hopkins, Las Vegas Review-Journal
  14. ^ "Taxpayers make donation; LVCVA chief gets award" by Benjamin Spillman, Las Vegas Review-Journal
  15. ^ "NPRI's transparency project"
  16. ^ "Letters: Authority a vital community partner" by Keith Smith, Las Vegas Review Journal
  17. ^ a b "I-Team: Policy Group Takes on LVCVA" by Jonathan Humbert, LasVegasNow.com
  18. ^ "Venetian calls for end to LVCVA" by Richard N. Velotta, LasVegasSun.com
  19. ^ "Authority trying to change subject" by Steven Miller, Las Vegas Review-Journal, LVRJ.com