S.F. Shop Faces Challenge on EA Business

LOS ANGELES Videogame maker Electronic Arts is putting pressure on its struggling lead shop, independent See:, to partner with or sell to a San Francisco-area agency with global reach or risk losing the account, sources said.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based client spent $80 million last year on domestic ads, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. EA spends an estimated $150 million globally.

Among the shops See: in San Francisco has talked to is BBDO, although the Omnicom global network has not expressed interest, sources said.

EA, which makes the popular game Madden NFL, also works with independent Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., which won the client’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Need for Speed titles this year, a combined $10 million assignment [Adweek Online, April 12]. W+K’s Amsterdam office has handled the client’s FIFA Football title in Europe since 2002.

The agencies and EA declined comment.

See:, formerly known as Odiorne, Wilde, Narraway & Partners, was restructured after creative director Michael Wilde quit in August 2003 to complete a film, and former chairman and ecd Jeff Odiorne departed in October to start an entertainment-based venture in New York.

Citing philosophical differences, Wilde’s successor, Harry Cocciolo, who joined from Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco in December, resigned from the agency on Oct. 12. CEO Eileen Arbues also left last month.

EA has nearly doubled its ad spending every year since 2000, when it spent $15 million, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. In 2001, EA spent $34 million; in 2002, $60 million; and last year, $80 million, all per Nielsen.