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Chris Jones

Hard Rock Boss Nominated for Board Position

27 May 2004

The man whose company ran afoul of state gaming regulators for its sexually charged advertisements that jokingly suggested patrons should abuse prescription medication and cheat on their wives and/or casino dealers could soon help determine the fate of Las Vegas' popular-but-controversial "What happens here, stays here" ad campaign.

Hard Rock Hotel President Kevin Kelley has been tabbed by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce to fill one of that organization's three seats on the 13-member board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, chamber spokeswoman Catherine Levy said Wednesday.

Kelley's nomination must still be approved by the seven elected members of the convention authority board, which next convenes June 8.

"Kevin is a member of our board and has been a very active supporter of the chamber," Levy said. "It's a tourism seat, and we're very confident he'll do a great job."

Kelley would replace Nevada Power Co. President Donald "Pat" Shalmy on the convention authority board, Levy added.

State law requires Southern Nevada's largest chamber to fill three seats on the convention authority board. Levy said Kelley will join Harrah's Entertainment executive Tom Jenkin in representing tourism-related businesses, while local consultant Bob Forbuss will continue to hold the chamber's general business seat.

Kelley did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

Kelley's Las Vegas-based casino company is now mired in a dispute with the Nevada Gaming Commission over a three-count complaint filed in late January. On April 21, the company agreed to pay a $300,000 fine to settle the matter, but the issue was prolonged last week when commissioners rejected the settlement and ordered a July 29 trial to resolve the matter.

The convention authority's "Vegas Stories" ad campaign, which debuted in January 2003, has also been slammed by some locals and others from outside Nevada. Critics say the spots paint Las Vegas as a haven for trashy behavior including quickie marriages and irresponsible partying, while others hail the ads for building widespread awareness of the Las Vegas brand.

Among other high-profile examples, first lady Laura Bush used variations of the spots' famous "What happens here, stays here" tag line during an appearance last week on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Convention authority leaders have repeatedly defended the "Vegas Stories" campaign, which Las Vegas-based agency R&R Partners developed. Thanks to that support, the ads are slated to continue through next year, R&R spokesman Dain Percifield said Wednesday.

Hard Rock Boss Nominated for Board Position is republished from