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Ad veteran joins Activision

Eric Hirshberg named CEO publishing arm

Activision Blizzard, the gaming industry’s largest publisher, has hired a high profile advertising and marketing veteran as CEO of its Activision Publishing arm.

Eric Hirshberg, who had served as CEO and chief creative officer of advertising and marketing agency Deutsch/LA, will join the company effective Sept. 7. He assumes the position from Mike Griffith, who was promoted to vice chairman of Activision Blizzard earlier this year.

Activision Blizzard has had consistent hits while several other publishers have struggled for the past 18-24 months. Among its biggest franchises are “World of Warcraft,” “Call of Duty” and “Guitar Hero” — all of which are worth more than $1 billion. While the Blizzard Entertainment studio, which publishes “World of Warcraft” is run separately, Hirshberg will oversee operational management of the company’s other titles, including its studio, product development functions and consumer marketing activities.

Bobby Kottick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said the knowledge and skills Hirshberg built during his 13 years with Deutsch/LA will position him well for the job.

“It was critically important to have someone who was a lifelong gamer,” said Kottick. “The world he’s coming from is all about being able to translate consumer insight into really compelling communications. He recognizes that the way you communicate with consumers is dramatically different than five years ago.”

Hirshberg landed the job after a nine-month search in which the company says it spoke with more than 200 candidates.

At Deutsch, Hirshberg won the WSAA Creative Leader of the Year award two times and was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement in 2007. He also directed Bon Jovi’s “Have A Nice Day” music video.

Gamers know him best as the creative mind behind Sony PlayStation’s “Kevin Butler” ad campaign — a series of commercials that has been credited with vastly improving sales of the PS3.

“He invented Kevin Butler,” said Kottick. “Why that’s so important and what it tells you about his mindset is [that campaign] recognized that the audience’s voice mattered more than anything else.”

Activision plans to focus increasingly on subscription-based entertainment and the mobile space in the years to come. It also is deeply immersed in international markets. Kottick said the CEO had to be able to handle those duties and inspire the company’s creative talent. Hirshberg, he says, fit that role.

“I feel like everything I’ve done in my entire career has been preparing me for this,” said Hirshberg. “This is a chance to take everything I know how to do, from leading creative people, to developing a great creative product, to building a culture of ideas, and apply them to something I’ve been passionate about my entire life.”

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