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Game Daily - August 8, 2003

Any smart marketer needs to know what is going on in the entertainment industry, no matter what industry they are in, because across the board, companies are using entertainment more than ever before. If they aren't going to grab on to the next movie, someone else is."

Those words emanated from LA Office president Mitch Litvak, as he talked to GameDaily about his company's upcoming extravaganza for marketers, The LA Office RoadShow.

Litvak founded LA Office itself in 1994 with a goal of "bridging the gap between the entertainment industry and corporate America." The company works with brand marketers, agencies and "anyone that is looking for entertainment tie-ins to enhance their brand marketing campaigns." Litvak continued, "That involves film, video, television, interactive, the gaming world and toys and music. We search all those areas to figure out which opportunities best match a client's needs and marketing objectives."

He explained how marketing has grown in the interactive industry, "With interactive, and the videogame world, we have seen a big push into the promotional world in terms of not just individual promotions for games, but promotions that are branded for specific companies—like EA doing an umbrella program and Xbox and PlayStation doing programs for both hardware and software promotions. "

Started in 1998 by Litvak and his company, The LA Office RoadShow has grown from being strictly a theatrical marketing event to one that encompasses virtually all entertainment mediums. The event facilitates one-on-one meetings, giving even small companies a chance to pitch themselves and their products in the same way that mega firms can. "It puts everybody at the same level in terms of being able to find entertainment opportunities for their marketing and branding needs," said Litvak.

The LA Office RoadShow began as a tri-city jaunt around the country, with stops in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The event has now settled into Los Angeles and runs for three days. Attendance has swelled from about 145 people in that first year to the 850 people that took part in last year's event.

The RoadShow, scheduled for September 16-18 in Hollywood, is broken down into daily segments targeting specific entertainment industries.. Music Day is September 16, Theatrical & Television Day is September 17, while Theatrical and Home Entertainment Day is September 18.

Litvak says that, while it depends on what videogame companies are looking for, "If you are creating videogames, you really need to be there every single day." Music is a huge part of games now, and the Television Day is "loaded with opportunities in terms of new and existing programs that are available." The conference's cornerstone is its Theatrical Day, when, according to Litvak, new properties are introduced. "Shrek, The Matrix, Spider-Man, all those properties have been talked about (at the RoadShow) since the time they were green lit at the studio. The presentations that are given at the event really introduce those properties and what types of opportunities that are available for all the different categories-whether you are a videogame manufacturer, a packaged goods company or an online company, like AOL or Yahoo!"

Presentations tend to not only spotlight the entertainment property, but are presented in a way where each studio takes 40-45 minutes to walk attendees through the marketing campaigns for the property and also passes along the production point of view as to how the property in question is going to be used. "It's a way to better understand what the property is," added Litvak.

Litvak reeled off just a few of the recent high-profile tie-ins and brand marketing deals aided by the RoadShow—Austin Powers 2 and Virgin Atlantic, Sea Biscuit and General Motors and Legally Blonde 2 and Gateway Computers.

Getting in early with a property cannot only cost less; it can provide a chance to get a brand featured even more prominently. Said Litvak, "Getting involved with a property at the ground level, say a year and a half or so before it is introduced, could lead to opportunities for getting involved in the script. If a relationship is created before a film goes into production, product placement is typically included as part of any marketing opportunity."

So, is there any chance of an extra day or track being added to the RoadShow specifically for videogames? "There's two things the event is missing," answered Litvak, "Videogames and sports. I think videogames are incredibly appropriate and I would love to have them there. We are trying to figure out how to make it happen,"

"LA Office has always had a real strong relationship with the videogame industry because so much of what they do is either equity borrowed from other entertainment companies, or their product is being used by entertainment companies, in the case of Tomb Raider or Mortal Kombat going theatrical."

An early bird registration program is currently winding down (it ends August 15) that can save attendees $100.00.

All in all, RoadShow expects to showcase over 100 upcoming theatrical and home video titles at this year's show