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What Happens in Vegas: Brand Immersion in the American Culture
By: Don McLean
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Once a brand is so heavily immersed in the American culture, it creates a huge amount of staying power. The brand name turns into a a word or phrase used to describe entire categories of products or a lifestyle choice. The perfect example of one brand applying to an entire category is Kleenex.

Growing up I, like many others, did not know the word "tissue." Kleenex is what everyone I knew called them, no matter the brand. To this day, I never use the word tissue. It was something built into my culture as a specific word. When a brand has this amount of pull, the staying power is immense. This of course applies to only one product category. Can you think of a brand that spans the gamut of all product categories?

Cadillac is one such brand. Cadillac has been synonymous with a phrase meaning the "gold standard." What do mountain biking tips, health care, grilling, power cables, and surf shops have in common? Google the term "You don't need the Cadillac" and you will find out. Similarly, Google the term "this is the Cadillac of" and you will find references to Chinese food, drills, breast pumps, coffins, and 11.5 million other pages.

We have a brand that applies to one category and a brand that applies to both categories, so what do we have left? Slogans. Have you ever heard a tagline that ringed out across America becoming heavily ingrained in society? A couple campaigns that come to mind are "Where's the beef?" and the duck squawking "AFLAC!" However, there is one slogan that has surpassed its own fame. It is that of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

This is the Las Vegas campaign that took Americans by storm. It is so popular that even past the life of the campaign Americans are using it in everyday language. Fill in the blanks: What happens in _____, stays in _____. I was given a t-shirt last year after playing a show with my band in a barn saying, "What happens in the barn, stays in the barn." This term is used for road trips, work parties, girls' weekends, and much more. Although some form of this saying was around before the actual campaign, Las Vegas popularized it. Bringing the phrase to stand for a symbol of letting your hair down without consequences.

Was it luck that brought Kleenex, Cadillac, and Las Vegas to stand for these symbols in America? Maybe. Was it a planned out effort by their creative teams to make the best possible campaign for those brands? Most definitely. Not every brand can get to this type of elite status. Who do you think will be the next brand to immerse themselves like this in American culture?



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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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