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Building the $1 billion MGM Grand Hotel, Casino & Theme Park-with 4,005 rooms, a gambling floor that covers the equivalent of four football fields and a 33-acre theme park-was one thing. Filling it up was another.

Tom Bruny, director of advertising and PR, began the task last September, three months before the resort's opening.

Traditional Las Vegas hotel ad strategy calls for campaigns in the "feeder" cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix.

"We felt we had a product that took the concept of a Las Vegas destination and resort to another level," says Mr. Bruny, 38. "We had a product that would broaden the overall draw of Las Vegas."

MGM Grand began announcing its impending opening via network TV spots-from Dunn Reber Glenn Marz, Las Vegas-during high-profile programs, such as the World Series, 25th anniversary of "60 Minutes" and the Grammys.

MGM Grand's biggest ace in the hole, however, wasn't advertising. When the management landed Barbra Streisand, absent from the stage for more than two decades, as the headliner for two New Year's Eve shows, the hotel gained instant international press.

Still, the world's largest hotel and casino wasn't opening in a vacuum. In late 1993, two other big properties began vying for visitors: Luxor and Treasure Island.

"At first people said how could one marketplace absorb all those rooms," Mr. Bruny says. But the "synergy" of all the additional advertising has helped pump up overall occupancy rates throughout Sin City's 87,500 rooms.

MGM Grand has been close to a sellout, with monthly occupancy rates in the high 90s. More than 40% of the guests are from east of the Mississippi. "Nobody would have been bold enough to predict those numbers," he says.

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