|By Richard N. Velotta, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 25, 2012--Thank you, Prince Harry.
Your royal romp at the Wynn Encore Tower Suites earlier this week gave Las Vegas a nice end-of-the-summer tourism bump.
And even though you were the butt of late-night talk-show hosts' jokes and you're bound to get a royal scolding from the Queen Mum, your pool-party shenanigans fell squarely into the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's marketing strategy to attract attention to the place that regularly celebrates your kind of fun.
Photos of the prince's nude billiard game resulted in a full-page ad touting Las Vegas in USA Today, a doubling of searches for local resorts on hotels.com and the invention of a new $25 hamburger at a Strip eatery. It also created a buzz about Las Vegas that money can't buy.
The LVCVA ad in USA Today chided the people who ratted out Prince Harry to celebrity gossip site TMZ.
"For shame!" it reads. "To those who traded in their pledge to their Las Vegas brethren, we deplore you. We are calling on you, the defenders of what happens in Vegas staying in its rightful place -- in Vegas. We are asking for a shun on those exploiters of Prince Harry. 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?"
A spokesman for the LVCVA said the ad cost "in the low six figures."
"For everyone's sake, it's important that 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,'" said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the LVCVA. "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 code" is part of the LVCVA's summer ad campaign that reminded people not to snitch on those who play hard in Las Vegas.
Based on figures tabulated by hotels.com, a hotel-reservation website, thousands of others are thinking about playing hard in Southern Nevada.
In the 24 hours after the crown jewels went on public display, hotels.com reported that Las Vegas searches more than doubled from the same date a year ago. Company officials dubbed it "the Prince Harry effect."
"Vegas has long since been the party capital of the world, and it seems that recent events have led to a resurgence in people's desire to go there and let off steam, just as Prince Harry has," said Kate Hopcraft of hotels.com.
"When a story like this breaks, people are interested in seeing pictures of the place," added Taylor Cole, director of public relations for hotels.com.
She said online traffic from the United Kingdom, "which is absolutely enamored with Las Vegas," was up 123 percent. Searches originating in Canada spiked 118 percent, and hits from within the United States were up 87 percent, she said.
A Las Vegas gourmet hamburger restaurant also was quick to capitalize on the prince's folly.
I Love Burgers, which has locations at Town Square and The Shoppes at the Palazzo, on Friday debuted "The Exposed Prince," a $25 burger that features a ground Kobe patty, Boxing Cheddar, garlic and onion chutney, a fried egg and HP sauce served open-faced on a pretzel bun.
John Cerqueira, general manager of I Love Burgers at the Palazzo, said the restaurant sold about a dozen of the burgers by mid-day Friday as an off-the-menu special.
"It's a conversation piece," Cerqueira said. "I think everybody is just having some fun with it."
It also doesn't hurt that the restaurant is offering a 20 percent discount to Brits who flash their passports when they order.
The LVCVA says the media response has been favorable.
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel and Deal blogger Mary Forgione wrote, "Bare-naked photos of Prince Harry in Las Vegas that surfaced this week gave Sin City an opportunity to do what it does best: Seize the marketing day!"
The mayor of London also gets it.
Mayor Boris Johnson told the BBC he had a "deafening indifference" to the publication of the naked photos.
"The real scandal would be if you went all the way to Las Vegas and you didn't misbehave in some trivial way," he said.
(c)2012 Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)
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