Duncan/Channon to Refresh Tomb Raider Franchise

Videogame fans wondering where virtual vixen Lara Croft has gone since the Tomb Raider movie, take heart: The computer-generated heroine is returning to gaming and advertising.

Duncan/Channon Advertising in San Rafael, Calif., has been tapped following a review to design ads for Eidos Interactive’s upcoming The Angel of Darkness, the first Tomb Raider game for Sony’s PlayStation2 console. Billings are estimated at $5 million, sources said.

Croft has been a videogame and advertising staple since the first Tomb Raider title rolled out in 1996. “It’s a critical juncture for the franchise,” agency co-founder and creative director Bob Duncan said. “The new game has a better engine, superior graphics and a deep back story. Lara’s not just running around—this game has depth and substance.”

Duncan/Channon has worked on projects for the British company, which has U.S. headquarters in San Francisco, for more than two years, most recently on the 2000 release of Tomb Raider: Chronicles and on a game based on the Sydney Olympics.

Agency officials said the review focused on strategy and taking the franchise a “leap forward” in popularity.

“It’s the biggest thing they’ve done, and it could be the biggest thing in the category this year,” agency general manager Andy Berkenfield said. “We’ve developed a really good working relationship with them, but the challenge in the pitch was to refresh the brand.”

The review’s other contenders could not be determined.

TV, print and online advertising is due in late fall. The game’s release date has not been set, but it will be before the holidays.

“The technology is the strongest yet, taking full advantage of the PS2,” said Chip Blundell, Eidos’ director of marketing. “We’ve completely refreshed our brand, and we picked Duncan/Channon because they offer the perspective and creativity we need to get this message out.”

Duncan/Channon also works with Allied Domecq’s Clos du Bois and Buena Vista wines, Network Associates, AltaVista Software and Sony Metreon.