Building the Ultimate Mystery Box
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s “What Happens Here Stays Here” advertising campaign is much more than a series of TV spots, it’s become a part of the American lexicon. Their longtime ad agency R&R Partners wanted to relaunch the brand on digital and social and partnered with my team at bpg to create a digital 360 campaign based around a hashtag version of their classic ad tagline, “#WHHSH.”
After a series of strategy meetings, and a ton of white-boarding sessions, we dreamed up a metaphor for Las Vegas, and central campaign theme that we could rally around – the “Mystery Box.” Inspired by J.J. Abrams’ TED Talk, where he describes the value of anticipation of not knowing as potentially more vital to generating excitement than actual experience, we searched for ways to make Las Vegas the ultimate Mystery Box.
The six-month campaign was divided into three phases: Tease, Reveal and Continuity, all centered around debuting the box, opening it, then revealing at what was inside – everything you can become while shedding your “normal self” when you visit the city. We found power in the idea that Las Vegas, more than any other tourist location, inspires visitors to let go and become a version of themselves they can only be while in the glow of those singular neon lights.
The Mystery Box as a metaphor got us started, but we decided to employ it as both a physical device and visual brand of the #WHHSH campaign as well.
Phase 1: The Tease
We started by launching social accounts for #WHHSH on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and rolled out a calendar of moody and oblique motion pieces with a high-fashion black and white aesthetic. We deposited the box in the sexy, mysterious environments to create a sense of elegance. All the footage was captured in a special shoot at a beautiful home in Los Angeles.
WHHSH.com was the online home of our Mystery Box. In the tease phase, it was shown locked up, with a countdown.
The #WHHSH Hunts
We brought the real WHHSH Mystery Box into the real world, by staging a multi-city hunt for custom-branded black boxes with WHHSH $500 cash cards inside. We traveled the country; San Diego, New York City, San Francisco, and Phoenix hiding the boxes, and leaving location clues on social. As the campaign progressed, these “box drops” turned into actual foot races with clever users trying to be the first to find them.
For the last two cities – Los Angeles and Las Vegas – we live-streamed the hiding of the boxes for viewers to watch along in real-time, and race to the final location to grab them. The audience ate it up.
Phase 2: The Mystery Box Opens
Up to this point, we’d made no connection to Las Vegas whatsoever, so the audience on social was super curious as to what this whole thing was about.
On the day of the last #WHHSH Hunt livestream, we “opened the box”– and revealed Las Vegas.
The WHHSH.com site was updated simultaneously and featured a “Mystery Box Opens” reveal video visually connecting the opening of our box with the city.
Phase 3: The Mystery Box Delivers
Finally, with the box “open,” our campaign turned to showing and awarding the audience the best Vegas has to offer. We selected a group of lifestyle, travel, photography and food influencers and hand-crafted amazing weekend adventures for them to enjoy the Vegas that’s available to anyone, as well as exclusive insider-only experiences.
My favorite perk was when the influencers got to pick the song of the Bellagio fountain and hit the big red button to activate it:
The WHHSH.com Prize Machine
We turned whhsh.com into an online “prize machine,” with a timer counting down to moments where users could jump on social, engage, and win a huge array of cool Vegas giveaways, tickets and trips.
This was a massive endeavor both for bpg and for me personally, #WHHSH reflects months of brainstorms, ideas, shoots, trips around the country, and livestreams (which I shot myself ;). True to their name, R&R Partners were great partners in making this all happen, and this will always be one of my favorite projects.