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Gamesmanship

The hot new board game, “L.A. Game,” lets players tool around town, stopping at local landmarks like City Restaurant, Jose Eber’s and the Hollywood Bowl--using miniature Porsche 928s and 911 Turbos as game markers. But why is Spago on the map--and not Hugo’s? L.A. Eyeworks, but not Optical Fashion Center? Disneyland, but not Knott’s Berry Farm?

Easy--product placement.

“Each company offered a fee to be on the board, anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on its placement on the game board,” explained creator Steve Hutchinson, who marketed a similar San Diego game six years ago. “Porsche paid $45,000 to get its cars in the game.”

Restaurants were especially competitive, Hutchinson said, “making sure they could keep their rivals out. Morton’s wanted to make sure Trump’s wasn’t on there at all. And we had a problem with Disneyland, which would only be in the game if we’d promise to drop the Playboy Mansion.”

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Disneyland initially wanted 6% of the game’s gross for use of its name, Hutchinson said. When he threatened to drop the Magic Kingdom, it antied up “about $12,000" to be involved.

Hutchinson hopes to export the game to New York later this year--with a special twist. “For all the Hollywood haters there,” he said, “we’re doing a special version with darts!”


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