Mark E. Brown
Rogers, Arkansas, U.S.
|Occupation||Chief Executive Officer|
Best known for "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" campaign
Mark E. Brown is an American businessman and former CEO of Zen Entertainment and a former vice president of The Howard Hughes Corporation. His company currently has partnership deals with ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio, NBCSports.com, Ultimate Fighting Championship, World Wrestling Entertainment, and casinos such as the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, Hard Rock Hotel. He is also the former Partner and President of R&R Partners, the ad agency which created the "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" advertising campaign for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. In addition, Brown is founder and director of Service 1st Bank of Nevada, valued in 2010 around $210 million, and previously served as the President of MBC Communications.
Early life and education
He attended the University of Nevada, Reno and completed the Executive Program in Management for the John Anderson Graduate School of Management. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the UNLV Foundation.
Brown started out working as a senior legislative assistant on the staff of former Nevada Senator Chic Hecht. He spent five years in Washington, D.C. overseeing all of Hecht's U.S. Senate Banking and Energy Committee assignments in the 1980s. After 1989, he started and operated his own company called The Carrara Group, a government affairs and public relations company which was later acquired by Burson-Marsteller, the world's largest public relations firm. Following the acquisition he got a job as the Executive Vice President of corporate and government relations and marketing for The Howard Hughes Corporation and from 1994 to 1999, worked for the company, that is also an affiliate of The Rouse Company. Yet, by 1999 Brown began to transition into the world of Las Vegas casinos. He served as an Executive Vice President of government relations and corporate communications for Station Casinos, Inc. from 1999 to 2000.
Brown was the founder and owner of Brown & Partners in 2000, which merged with R&R Partners in 2004. The merger helped bring a $226 million in combined capital in 2005, when the merger became effective. R&R Partners is considered Nevada's largest public affairs, public relations and full-service advertising agency. After the merger Brown served as its President and Chief Executive Officer from 2004 to 2007.
The company R&R Partners, is best known for creating the advertising campaign slogan "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" for the City of Las Vegas. Its "What happens here" slogan is not new, see What happens on tour, stays on tour, yet the campaign brought Las Vegas a record-breaking 37.4 million visitors in 2004. Since then the phrase has been used by many celebrities. Gambling fan Ben Affleck used it on Saturday Night Live. Billy Crystal used it to close the 2004 Oscars. It has been a clue on Wheel of Fortune. In 2004 on The Tonight Show when Jay Leno asked Laura Bush whether she had gambled or had seen a Chippendales show while visiting the Las Vegas Strip, the then First Lady got a big hand by replying, "Jay, what happened in Vegas, stays in Vegas." In later years the phrase was used as the title for a 2008 movie 'What Happens in Vegas' starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher. It has also been used in the 2009 blockbuster hit The Hangover.
Other Corporate Involvements
- Medicor Ltd: Brown was also involved in Medicor Ltd. as its director in 2003. The company was founded in 1999 and was based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Medicor, Ltd., through its subsidiaries, engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of breast implants and other implants primarily for the aesthetic, plastic, and reconstructive surgery markets worldwide. On June 29, 2007, MediCor Ltd, along with its affiliates, filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
- Service1 st Bank of Nevada: He was a founder of Service1 st Bank of Nevada. He has been a director of Service1st Bank of Nevada since January 2007. Brown serves as a Director of Service1st. The bank’s capital was valued at the end of the first quarter of 2010 around $21 million and later bought by Western Liberty Bancorp and Forbes Lister Jason N. Ader the same year.
- YourBuyer Worldwide, Inc.: Brown served as the President of YourBuyer Worldwide, Inc., a global purchasing company.
Brown heard about a social networking Web site proposal that would feature poker and be able to target ads to specific partners, he thought it sounded like a good idea. Thus, he started a holding company called Zen Gaming and acquired nlop.com, a successful online poker site Brown became the Chief Executive Officer of Zen Gaming in 2007. The website purchased initially had problems in the US with the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, yet Brown's combination of membership poker and paid advertising space online offered new potential.
Zen Gaming is based out of Las Vegas with wholly owned subsidiary divisions that include NewPoker LLC and Advergaming LLC under which the acquired National League of Poker operates. The company developed and patented two new poker games, Royal hold 'em and No River Hold'em that have been approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission and already are being played in the poker rooms at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, Hard Rock Hotel and O'Sheas on the Las Vegas Strip. Also, Stephens Media Group, owner of the Review-Journal, is one of Zen Gaming's first partners. Using the company's software, the Review-Journal launched a poker site, becoming the first newspaper in the country to offer online poker. Some of Zen Gaming's other partners include Golden Gaming and Lotus Broadcasting, a radio company that owns the local affiliates for ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio,and pair of local rock and Spanish-language stations. It also has partnership deals with NBCSports.com since 2009.
The Zen Gaming's software platform was selected by Poker Productions, Inc. under a continuing agreement with NBCsports.com to provide poker programming. Poker Productions provides executive production services for the National Heads-Up Poker Championship and the Poker After Dark programs seen on NBC.
Brown later made partnerships with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to set up poker rooms at their events. The UFC Poker Rooms leveraged UFC’s massive fan base and tremendous brand equity with Zen’s advergaming platform that the UFC considers "among the most robust, deeply analytical online Advergaming platforms in the world."
- USA Today, Advertising & Marketing. Michael McCarthy, "Vegas goes back to its naughty roots," April 11, 2005. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.