Activision Blizzard Rounds Out Creative Roster With Toy, BBDO

Has Also Tapped Crispin, Droga5 to Market Video Games Including 'World of Warcraft,' 'Guitar Hero'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Video-game giant Activision Blizzard has finalized a new roster of creative agencies to handle its marketing, and the most recent additions are two New York-based shops: independent Toy and Omnicom Group's BBDO.

Toy will handle marketing for Activision's 'Wolverine' and other licensed properties.
Toy will handle marketing for Activision's 'Wolverine' and other licensed properties.
Going forward, advertising for company's portfolio of video games will be handled by a quartet of agencies described as a "dream team" by Activision Chief Creative Officer Brad Jakeman. The other two are MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky and independent Droga5.

Creative duties for the marketer were previously handled by a single agency, Omnicom's DDB, Los Angeles.

Mr. Jakeman declined to discuss details about each of the agencies' assignments but did confirm that Crispin will continue working on the "Guitar Hero" franchise, while Toy will handle marketing for "Wolverine" and other licensed properties.

Newly formed company
Other games in the Activision Blizzard portfolio include "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft," plus licensed franchises including Marvel's "Spider-Man" and "X-Men," "James Bond," and "Transformers." Vivendi-owned Blizzard Entertainment publishes "World of Warcraft," the popular multiplayer online game. Combine that with Activision's "Guitar Hero," and the newly formed company houses two of the industry's most popular gaming titles under one roof.

Since landing at the Santa Monica, Calif.-based marketer late last year, Mr. Jakeman has wasted no time making his mark, quickly shaking up the company's agency relationships.

Activision Blizzard's new creative shops were appointed not as a result of a pitch but based on credentials, Mr. Jakeman said. It's no secret, though, that Mr. Jakeman has strong ties with the two latest shops to join the roster. Toy founders Anne Bologna and Ari Merkin and BBDO top creative David Lubars are all former Fallon executives whom Mr. Jakeman knows from his days at Citibank, where he spent eight years as managing director-global advertising.

Activision Blizzard's expansion of its creative-agency roster counters current trends, as marketers from Coca-Cola to Hewlett-Packard are consolidating their marketing accounts in an effort to trim costs and find efficiencies in a down economy.

'High-caliber creative'
"I'm more focused on the top line," Mr. Jakeman said. "My belief is having a very high-caliber creative resource allocated to a brand is going to create more-creative and more-impactful and therefore more-effective advertising to drive better sales results."

As it has grown its creative-agency relationships, the company is shrinking its number of media-agency partners. Activision Blizzard is in the midst of a review for its $200 million global media-planning and -buying account, the aim of which is to "consolidate our multiple media-agency responsibilities into a smaller number of media agencies such that we can more significantly leverage our combined scale in the marketplace," Mr. Jakeman said.

In that contest, the North American incumbent, Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, is competing against Omnicom's OMD, WPP's Mediaedge:cia, and independent Horizon, in partnership with Columbus Media International. Consultancy Ark Advisors is managing the search.

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