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LucasArts Puts Account in Play

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Videogame maker LucasArts Entertainment has launched a review for its $10-20 million ad business, an account that includes the marketing of popular Star Wars titles.

The company has begun assembling a short list of prospective shops. Sources said representatives from LucasArts have already talked with several San Francisco shops that have high-tech experience, including McCann-Erickson, which handles the Microsoft ad business and the company's upcoming XBox videogame console, and AKQA, which handles the Palm account.

Sources said the client does not appear to be in a hurry to select a shop, and yet the buzz around the review is palpable—mainly because of the high-profile nature of Lucas Arts. The company, based in San Rafael, Calif., was founded in 1982 by filmmaker George Lucas, who was looking to add an interactive dimension to his entertainment empire.

"It would be a great company to work with. We'd certainly be interested in it," one agency source said.

"People are going nuts to get in this thing. They are going nuts to get into anything," said another.

GMO/Hill, Holliday in San Francisco recently did some project work for LucasArts, designing campaigns for the Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles videogame and for some learning software.

Sources said GMO was not initially aware that the account was in review but that the agency would be interested in working with LucasArts again.

The company spent $4 million on advertising in 2000, according to CMR, but those eyeing the account noted that a bigger payoff may loom on the horizon.

"They are trying to figure out how to do their business" and gain more national recognition for its titles, one source said. "But the category is awesome. Whoever wins will have to work with them for a few years to figure out how to get their business off the ground."

Marketing officials at Lucas Arts did not return calls seeking comment.

Among the work GMO created for LucasArts was a TV spot for Jedi Power Battles. In it, a young man is shown walking through a metal detector in an airport. The man sets off the alarm, and the baggage clerks remove a lightsaber weapon from the bag. The light saber then turns on and sizzles one of the clerks' ties.

LucasArts markets over 30 video game titles, almost all of them Star Wars games.