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Betting on the Web

Stroman joins Iwin.com as gamer expands

Mark Stroman said Friday he is ankling News Corp. One as veep of worldwide promotions, 18 months earlier than planned, to join and help brand upstart gaming Web site Iwin.com.

The Santa Monica-based venture has already lured former E! Entertainment Television marketing and sales vet Dale Hopkins, a creator of E! Online, to serve as prexy.

Iwin is also expected to announce today a $5 million investment from Kevin Wendle, co-founder of CNET and Fox Broadcasting Co.; Howard Marks, former exec veep of vidgame giant Activision; and Stephen Rader, managing general partner of Rader, Reinfrank & Co.

Stroman, who starts in his post Dec. 1, will serve as senior veep, sales and marketing, for Iwin, creating promotional campaigns and branding partnerships with corporations, music labels and film and TV studios to push the gaming site.

According to a recent Forrester Research report, about 24% of the gaming industry’s $8 billion in revenues in 2002 is expected to come from online games — growth Iwin is trying to capitalize on.

“Games have permeated our lives,” Hopkins said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the next new popular gameshow will be on the Web.”

Iwin hopes to use its Hollywood connections to make its site stand out in the crowded online gaming market, offering film or TV set visits, autographs and trips to award ceremonies as prizes.

“We know that while consumers like to win merchandise, they’re truly excited by aspirational prizes, such as the opportunity to participate in a Hollywood experience,” Stroman told Daily Variety. “That’s something they won’t find at any other games site.”

With Stroman on board, Iwin is also hoping to attract major ad dollars.

After an 11-year stint at News Corp., Stroman asked to be let out of his contract at News Corp. One, the marketing unit that represents News Corp.’s 40 companies globally.

“I’ve had an amazing career here,” Stroman said. “I’m very sad to leave. It’s tough to leave, but the pendulum is swinging to the ‘Net. There is a true lack of marketing professionals in the Internet space. The structural engineers have built the machine. Now it’s time for the marketing people to jump in.”

As senior veep of national promotions at Fox Broadcasting, Stroman created the Who Shot Mr. Burns campaign for “The Simpsons” and the Play and Party With Dr. Pepper campaign for “Party of Five,” as well as ventures with Coca-Cola, Polaroid, Sprint and Visa.

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