Video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. in Santa Monica has pulled out all the stops for the TV campaign to launch "Guitar Hero World Tour," the latest installment of the popular series.

The campaign features celebrities trying to lip-sync Bob Seger's tune "Old Time Rock and Roll," the same song used in the famous scene Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear from the movie "Risky Business." The first commercial, which debuted Oct. 26, shows Kobe Bryant at the microphone backed by Alex Rodriguez and Michael Phelps on pretend guitars. Tony Hawk skateboards in to bang on the drums.

The commercials were produced by the L.A. office of advertising agency DDB, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. The director for the spots was Brett Ratner, who also helmed the "Rush Hour" trio of films.

Because "Guitar Hero" appeals to a wide range of consumers, the marketers decided to work the nostalgic angle by spoofing a movie released in 1983.

Also, the idea of showing a group of celebrities communicates the new game's capability of allowing various players on a variety of instruments to join the song. Previous versions of "Guitar Hero" featured one or two people playing the guitar parts on songs. The new version will take what Ratner called a "living-room rock star moment" and make it a group experience.

"We tapped a wide range of athletes, actors and supermodels to unleash their inner rock stars and live out their rock and roll fantasies," said Robert Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard.

Culture Change

Mendelsohn Zien Advertising in West Los Angeles has become the agency of record for Farmer John, a division of Hormel Foods Corp. For the last four years, the meat packer had concentrated on the Hispanic market with agency al Punto Advertising in Torrance.

The selection of MZA signals a switch to the general market.

"After several years of Spanish-language market focus, it now makes sense for us to return to a broader communications strategy," said Jeff Frank, vice president of marketing at Farmer John.

Farmer John makes a variety of sausage and meat products, but in Los Angeles, it's famous for the Dodger Dog, a nutritional staple for baseball fans. The Dodger Dog ranks as the top-selling stadium hot dog in the nation with sales of 1.6 million per season.

"We're proud to represent a company that's more than just another business they're a cherished institution," said agency President Richard Zien.

Networking Works

The online agency formerly known as Avenue A Razorfish has released a study that shows three-quarters of visitors on social networking sites welcome advertising.

The Seattle-based shop, which recently shortened its name to simply Razorfish, was purchased by Microsoft Corp. in May 2007. The study was produced by the L.A. office.

The survey of 1,000 online consumers found that nearly 40 percent have made a purchase based on advertising on a social site, and 65 percent think customer loyalty programs such as Amazon's Prime or Best Buy's Reward Zone are necessary for e-commerce sites to succeed.

"We find that consumers are more open to advertising as part of their everyday experience than commonly assumed," said Garrick Schmitt, Razorfish vice president and editor of the study.

Agencies & Accounts

PR agency Levine Communications Office has signed iChooz.tv, a startup video Web site that allows networking between film and music stars and fans. LCO will build awareness for the new client's site launch. CBS Paramount Network Television in Los Angeles has formed a partnership with the Saturn unit of General Motors Corp. to launch a Web video series called "Novel Adventures." Each Webisode is shot in Los Angeles, and shows a woman who reads a book and feels inspired to seek an adventure in a Saturn vehicle. Gail Cayetano and Stephanie Hansen, managing partners of L.A.-based Starfish Creative Events, are finalists in the Best Young Entrepreneur category at the annual Stevie Awards presented by Women in Business. Cayetano, 26, and Hansen, 25, launched event management firm Starfish in 2006. It Girl Public Relations in Los Angeles has added Key Closet, a men's causal fashion line, to its client list. The PR firm recently placed Key's major product, a $10,000 pair of diamond-studded jeans, in a music video.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at jrussell@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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