UPFRONT;BRICE IS RIGHT;NO. 2 TRIES HARDER;WAR & BREW; SELF-IMPROVEMENT WARE

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Not having much of a cult of personality here, we rarely write about our own. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that John Brice, formerly Creativity's associate publisher, has been named publisher.

"Creativity's continued vitality on the business side has been due to John's diligent efforts," says Ad Age publisher Ed Erhardt. "The promotion to publisher is clear recognition of Creativity's success, and his role in its growth."

Brice, 39, joined Ad Age in 1987 as a sales rep and became advertising director for Creativity a year later. He was promoted to national ad sales manager for Ad Age in 1990, and in 1993 was simultaneously named AA's director of custom publishing and Creativity's associate publisher.

A graduate of Central Michigan University, Brice began his career with The Chicago Sun-Times. He resides with his wife Jill and wee ones Isabelle and Ian in Westport, Conn.

ESPN2, initially designed to be the totally rad home of extreme sports stuff like full-contact snowboarding, has since broadened its program offerings to include more conventional activities like basketball and football, says Goldsmith/Jeffrey writer Eddie Van Bloem.

The problem was that they now had to find a way to distinguish it from the mothership, particularly for the nation's cable operators. So Van Bloem and AD Jason Gaboriau came up with a typically sparse print campaign (initially produced for cable trades, it may run in consumer titles) that uses stock photos to convey the concept that ESPN2 brings its viewers traditional sports but with a slightly edgier attitude. Other credits to CD Gary Goldsmith and photographer Ilan Rubin.

While Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation fight for the videogame hardware crown, a spot for Namco Hometek's new Tekken 3-D fight fest, according to AD David A. Wong and CW Cordell Jeffries, focuses on what's really important: the games. Says Wong, "we thought we'd show the gaming industry as worthless without the ultimate software."

In their comic spot from Darien & Kilburg, San Francisco, a young guy runs up a hill littered with obsolete game hardware to meet a guru holding a PlayStation. The wise man holds up the empty PlayStation and asks, "Where's the game?" When the chap comes up empty, the mystic beats him with a stick and kicks him down the hill. "And pick up a six-pack, you idiot!" the guru barks after him. Gary Johns of Johns & Gorman directed; credit also CD Robert Kilburg.

Realizing that it would take most people a week to wade through the dense copy explaining Label Matrix 4.0, scanning software for business inventories, copywriter Ed Prentiss says he and art director Brock Davis of Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis, devised a trade ad for the StrandWare brand that looks more like a parody of a page from "Ripley's Believe it or Not."

"This category is screaming for someone to look at it," says Prentiss of the hyperbole-laced ad that's illustrated with hokey '50s line drawings by Minneapolis' George Letnes.

The ad exploits metaphors that StrandWare "makes your life so much easier in so many ways," Davis explains. For instance, in the first paragraph, the text claims that the software can stop premature hair loss caused by stress, and then makes the disclaimer, "If premature hair loss has already occurred, don't worry. The Label Matrix box makes a terrific sun visor."

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