Look into my eyes...and explain this commercial
February 19, 2007 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Can someone explain the meaning/point of the Las Vegas commercial (i.e What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas) featuring the girlfriend and boyfriend visiting a psychic/fortune teller? The b/f is hesitant to get his fortune but the g/f insists and then he and the psychic have some kind of weird stare down with no words exchanged. I've tried googling with no luck.
posted by uva_nupe to Society & Culture (30 answers total)
I think the idea is that the boyfriend had such a wild night in Vegas, the physic will see it, tell the girlfriend and get him in trouble. The physic stares him down because she is "seeing" all the crazy shit he did. Because Vegas is crazy! It's wild and crazy! And you want to go there!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:08 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

He's cheated on his girlfriend in Vegas (or at least done something she wouldn't approve of) and is afraid that the psychic will reveal that in front of his girlfriend. The "stare down" I think, is him trying to psychically communicate to the fortune teller to keep that information private.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:09 PM on February 19, 2007

I haven't seen the commercial, but I can explain the motto to you.

About fifteen years ago, the powers-that-be in Vegas decided to try to change the image of Vegas from "Sin City" to something more like "Disneyland with casinos". The goal was to try to attract more families.

What they discovered was that "families" don't have a lot of money to gamble with. A couple of years ago they decided it had been a mistake, and they're trying to go back to "Sin City".

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. That means it's a place where you can go philander. That's what it's about. They've gone back to trying to attract men (married or not) who have big money to waste.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:11 PM on February 19, 2007

I haven't seen it, but I would have figured something "typically Vegas" had happened between the man and the psychic and that they recognized each other, based on your description.

I guess the commercial is wasted on people who don't believe in psychics.
posted by crinklebat at 2:18 PM on February 19, 2007

Interesting question. My first take on it was along the line of TPS and Pater Aletheias'. But then I thought that the gist might be that even though the psychic could "see" what the guy did, she was physically incapable of actually saying what happened because ... What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas. In other words, the "rule" is so strong it prevents any attempt to say what happened in Vegas, even if one wanted to.

I may be overanalyzing it. Which is actually kind of sad, if you think about it.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:25 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I assume murdered a prostitute on his las vegas trip and the psychic would see it. The lesson of the commercial is that shy of supernatural influence you can get away with anything in vegas.
posted by frieze at 2:25 PM on February 19, 2007

I like pardonyou?'s take.
posted by jaysus chris at 2:35 PM on February 19, 2007

I assumed the point of the staredown was that the psychic couldn't get a read on what happened in vegas (because vegas has a psychic barrier?), and was trying to goad the guy into leaking her some info thru guilty-thoughts.
posted by nomisxid at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2007


There are several commercials where women, not men, are the ones who've committed heinous acts in America's favorite little den 'o sin. So while the campaign might be aimed at men, they're hardly the only market.
posted by GilloD at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2007

Weird. I thought it was obvious. The psychic's reaction appeared in stages. At first, she sensed something embarrassing and she had some control over the guy. Then, as the fog cleared and more of the picture came into view, something far more sinister than mere philandering. Not quite evil but still something so serious that rather than exploiting the situation she just didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Maybe that's not what they meant but I think it's what they should have meant.
posted by stuart_s at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, I never understood the rule to be anything more than a very simple oath. If you and your friends do something in Vegas, then you have a secret that binds you. If you do something yourself in Vegas then you compartmentalize that part of yourself. There's no social contract that binds others and there's certainly no psychic force that controls others.

I actually like these commercials and I'll give the creators the benefit of the doubt and assume that they agree. It's better when it's simpler. I was trying to find the commercial and I saw another one. In it, a landscaper blackmails a homeowner. I think this is suggestive that I'm correct. Maybe, the psychic commercial is supposed to exist in its own universe but all of the other commercials conform to my idea of the "rule", too and none of them expand on it in any way.
posted by stuart_s at 3:14 PM on February 19, 2007

She saw the wild stuff he did, but didn't speak it aloud because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:36 PM on February 19, 2007

On the official website, they have a bit with a 'Vegas Visionary' who claims to be able to see what happens in Vegas unlike the 'phony' psychic in the commercial (though he turns out to be phony, too). That, to me, strongly implies that the psychic in the original commercial is meant to not be able to see what's happening.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:57 PM on February 19, 2007

i'm with what's been said already...

Vegas as a family-friendly town full of rollercoasters, video games & Chuck E. Cheese buffets = nearly profitless

Vegas as a world where where even the most shlubby or responsible human can feel guilt-free to gamble, drink, do drugs, explore their gayness, or stab a hooker = good business
posted by miss lynnster at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2007

I took it like this... the guy knows he did something in Vegas, the psychic notices and does some digging. The guy is worried, the psychic can find nothing and diggs further. The guy remembers the 'Vegas' thing, and they psychic is miffed when she can't find the secret. Then there's a 'Ha Ha' moment at the end.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:26 PM on February 19, 2007

Vegas as a family-friendly town full of rollercoasters, video games & Chuck E. Cheese buffets = nearly profitless

Something is odd here, because I saw a segment on a TV news show ("60 Minutes," maybe), about how Vegas is becoming less and less about gambling and more and more about family entertainment. And I remember them saying that the hotels now make more money on the Broadway-style shows than on the casinos.

And as a frequent traveler Vegas, this feels right.
posted by grumblebee at 5:12 PM on February 19, 2007

Weirdly enough, my roommate and I had this exact same conversation last night, with him taking your position and me taking ThePinkSuperhero's. Like, almost verbatim. The commercial upset him and he found it baffling. I thought it made sense, but was dumb.
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2007

The way I interpreted it was pretty much the same as PinkSuperhero, except I determined that the guy was a closet-psychic and was having a psychic-fu battle in psychic land with the psychic lady. He was beating her down with his psychic-fu, thus preventing her from revealing his Vegas secrets. She wanted to speak but his psychic powers were greater, this rendering her strangled.
posted by afx114 at 5:53 PM on February 19, 2007

Something is odd here, because I saw a segment on a TV news show ("60 Minutes," maybe), about how Vegas is becoming less and less about gambling and more and more about family entertainment.

While it's true that entertainment has risen as a percentage of the Casinos' profits, it's not family entertainment unless you're staying at Circus Circus or Excalibur, which are a couple of the lest-profitable casinos on the strip. These days the Casinos make their money by selling $15 martinis, $35 buffets, and $250/night rooms. "Family" has certainly been retired from Vegas over the past 10 years.
posted by afx114 at 5:58 PM on February 19, 2007

I see it as the What-Happens-In-Vegas-Stays-In-Vegas mojo is more powerful than the psychic's psychic ability. All she keeps getting from her magic 8-ball is "Reply hazy, try again."
posted by Guy Smiley at 6:41 PM on February 19, 2007

I thought that the things he did in Vegas were so unspeakable that the psychic was horrified and shocked. I mean, what do you say when you first discover someone enjoys John Tesh, for example?

Every time I see the commercial, I try to imagine a new abomination. The crimes of "Knowingly funded the genocide in Darfur", "Transvestite orgy", "Attended a John Tesh concert", and now, thanks to miss lynnster's suggestion, "Stabbed a hooker," are already taken.
posted by IvyMike at 6:57 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

You're welcome, Mike! :)

Regarding this... I actually mentioned the lack of profit because it's something I was specifically told. In 1996 I worked for an LA ad agency on the Desert Inn account, and I was assigned to work in Vegas for 2 weeks for the opening of the Stratosphere Hotel. The design directions we chose were specifically supposed to appeal to couples with children. It was actually a big deal that they were putting rollercoasters on the roof & whatnot because that was so against the previous Vegas vibe (I was dragged to Vegas as a kid & hated it, so I had a hard time promoting it as child friendly though).

Anyhow, within a few years, the "What Happens In Vegas" tagline was created... in exact opposition of what we had been told to pursue before. The reason being, after a few years of that whole "family friendly" thing they found that when people bring their children they simply do not spend nearly as much money. And money is what Vegas is all about.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:18 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, and regarding the Broadway shows? There's a difference between the old Vegas (Fremont) and the Strip. Cirque de Soliel has really taken over Vegas and yes, those shows -- which only exist in the major hotels -- do well. But the typical Vegas entertainment, especially off the strip, still struggles. (I saw a HORRIFYING show at The Nugget in November that closed in a week. For very good reason.)

They really do not make money on the family friendly shows other than the big name ones in the big strip hotels (that are already making money). They even built a brand new theatre for the oh-so-edgy Avenue Q (which I saw on Broadway & LOVED)... and that failed in record time. (I think it was a bad comedy fit for Vegas crowds...)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:30 PM on February 19, 2007

As someone who's worked in the travel industry for almost a decade now, I am confident saying that mainstream coverage of travel trends is usually at least a year or two behind what's actually happening in the travel industry. What 60 Minutes is claiming and what's actually happening are probably an entire cycle apart.
posted by occhiblu at 11:29 PM on February 19, 2007

Wouldn't the psychic have to see something in his future, or something from his past that affects his future? So maybe he impregnated a call girl in vegas, and the psychic sees his daughter showing up a few years later looking for money at a particularly rocky point in the dude's life.

The psychic can't say anything because, while their code is simple the psychic code is very strict...

The Rules are...
1. Don't lie, unless if it will get you more money.
2. Pretend that someone will find true love.
3. Vegas related things must only be conveyed while still in Vegas.
posted by drezdn at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2007

This is a little bit OT, but I've noticed the logic in those commercials are often kind of off. Like, has anyone seen the one where the guy is basically extorted by his lawn care dude because said dude saw him up to something in Vegas? Because the moral of that story seems to be, what happens in Vegas may not stay in Vegas, it might totally follow you home and bite you on the ass. How is that a selling point?
posted by nanojath at 9:59 AM on February 20, 2007

What 60 Minutes is claiming and what's actually happening are probably an entire cycle apart.

Yeah. I'm from Vegas originally, and I can vouch for the recent and sudden end of the whole "family-friendly" thing. For example, the street-show at the Treasure Island used to be normal pirates... now it's sexy, half-dressed lady pirates. Cirque Du Soleil has a risque show now. The Vegas-style revue is back. Etc. This has all happened in the last 5 years or so.

It's actually not a bad change even for families, though -- most of the strip casinos seem to have kept the more important parts of the family-friendly ideal (day care, strollers, places you can take the kids like movie theaters/arcades/broadway shows, and food places that appeal to kids) even as they've dumped the overtly Chuck E. Cheese stuff. As a result, when you take the kids to Vegas you take the kids to Vegas, but as long as you're up for a bit of explaining ("the pirates just forgot their shirts this morning, honey, it's OK"), it's still reasonable as a family trip.
posted by vorfeed at 10:46 AM on February 20, 2007

And Rule 4 of psychic club... don't talk about psychic club.

I still think Vegas isn't a place for kids myself, but that's because when I was little we could've been going to Hawaii and my dad would've stopped in Vegas on the way. I hated the place. I remember looking around and thinking that place really made grownups act selfish & stupid. (As a selfish & stupid grownup, I now see the appeal.)
posted by miss lynnster at 12:07 PM on February 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers...I especially liked the psychic battle explanation. I suppose the meaning is somewhere between she can't see what happened because of the Vegas rule and she saw stuff but wouldn't say anything because of the rule. Either way, I think they could have done more to make the point...like the lawn care extortioner.
posted by uva_nupe at 12:47 PM on February 20, 2007

Undoubtedly he erected his Tower of Iron Will to guard against the psychic.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 1:09 PM on February 20, 2007

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