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Borgata Bows Poker-Themed Spot

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NEW YORK Seeking to capitalize on the growing popularity of poker, the Borgata Hotel and Casino has opened a new, 85-table poker room, the company said.

And to support that expansion, the Borgata next Monday bows a 30-second TV spot directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man). The commercial will run heavily in East Coast markets. Print work is also on tap to advertise the Atlantic City, N.J., client's three new restaurants, which opened June 30. They are: Bobby Flay Steak, SeaBlue and Wolfgang Puck's American Grille. A new nightclub, Mur.Mur, opens this weekend.

The TV spot, running in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, shows an office worker bragging to his disinterested colleagues about his poker skills during a recent Borgata visit. Using poker jargon, the man describes his strategy. Even viewers unfamiliar with the game will catch on to the differences between the man's actual experience (he loses) and the spin he employs when relating the story to his colleagues.

The work introduces the tagline, "Go with your instincts," replacing, "Wait, it gets better," which debuted three years ago.

"We've always focused on Borgata as a brand in its entirety," said Sid Vaikunta, client vice president of marketing.

Emphasizing the "lifestyle" aspects of the casino puts it more in line with its competitors in the market, such as Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, he said.

Borgata has spent about $3 million annually in measured media over the past three years, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The client plans to spend about $10 million on ads through year's end.

"Atlantic City didn't have a great reputation in the past," said Eric Stein, the creative director at Schadler Kramer Group in Las Vegas, which handles the Borgata account. "You have to convince New Yorkers especially that it'll be worth the two-hour drive."

Stein and partner Clay James supervised the campaign. They wrote the script with other agency staffers and sent it out to various production houses, including Saville Productions in Beverly Hills, Calif., which represents Levinson. "He's a poker enthusiast," Stein said of Levinson. "We got a call saying he was interested" in directing the spot.

Schadler Kramer is an independent shop that opened in 1999, specializing in marketing for resorts, restaurants and clubs. It has worked with Planet Hollywood, MGM Mirage, Atlantis Paradise Island in The Bahamas and Cable Beach Resorts.