Activision Launches Review for $200M Global Media Acount

OMD, Mediaedge, Horizon Said to Be Competing Against Incumbent MediaVest

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Video-game giant Activision Blizzard has kicked off a review for its $200 million global media-planning and -buying account.

Activision's 'Guitar Hero'
Activision's 'Guitar Hero'
The marketer confirmed that a review has gotten under way but would not disclose which agencies were competing for the business. However, according to executives with knowledge of the matter, the North American incumbent, Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, is competing against Omnicom Group's OMD, WPP's Mediaedge:cia, and independent Horizon, in partnership with Columbus Media International.

Brad Jakeman, who joined Activision four months ago in the newly created position of chief creative officer, said the review is standard operating procedure for companies that go through mergers, referring to Activision's $18 billion merger with Vivendi in December 2007.

Vivendi owns Blizzard Entertainment, which publishes "World of Warcraft," the popular multiplayer online game. Along with Activision's "Guitar Hero," the newly formed company now houses two of the industry's most popular gaming titles under one roof.

Best-serving its needs
"As with any of these transformative business events, there is a process you go through to make sure you are operating as effectively and efficiently as you can in what is essentially a new organization," Mr. Jakeman told Advertising Age. "Both companies had different partners and processes for managing media. Now we are working out which of those processes and partners are going to best serve the needs of the integrated organization."

While MediaVest handles Activision's North American business, sibling Starcom MediaVest Group handles its international work. Mr. Jakeman would not identify any of the agencies handling media assignments for Blizzard other than to say the video-game publisher "works with a number of agencies around the world" and that it had somewhat of a "less centralized model compared to our side of the business."

The review, which Mr. Jakeman hopes to have completed by the end of March, is for online and offline media duties. Ark Advisors is consulting on the review.

Brad Jakeman
Brad Jakeman
More changes to come?
Activision Blizzard has shaken up its roster of agencies quite a bit in the past few months, and Mr. Jakeman hinted that it might not be done just yet. In January the company moved its "Guitar Hero" assignment from DDB, Los Angeles, to Crispin Porter & Bogusky. That same month it also brought in Droga5 for what Mr. Jakeman would only describe as a "confidential and exciting project for one of our game titles." Earlier this month Mr. Jakeman told Ad Age that his goal was to make Activision's marketing "at least as engaging, innovative and exciting as our games." In order to accomplish that, he said the company will continue to look at its agency relationships to ensure that they are the best fit.

And while there has been no official review launched, Mr. Jakeman said he is currently evaluating Activision Blizzard's roster of digital agencies. "We are just evaluating it," he stressed. The company works with five or six digital shops, none of which Mr. Jakeman would identify, on a project-by-project basis, "and we're just going through the process of identifying if we have the right amount and whether we have the right partners," he said.

The company also works with Omnicom's Ketchum on the consumer public-relations side and Sard Verbinnen on the corporate front. Mr. Jakeman said Activison is currently not evaluating those relationships.

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