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Ad executive tapped as new chief of Activision Publishing

* Deutsch LA CEO Eric Hirshberg to join game publisher

* Effective Sept 7

SAN FRANCISCO, July 13 (Reuters) - Video game publisher Activision Blizzard ATVI.O has named a marketing and advertising veteran to lead its Activision Publishing business, which is responsible for blockbusters like the "Call of Duty" franchise.

The company tapped Eric Hirshberg as chief executive of the unit, effective Sept. 7.

He will join Activision from marketing and ad agency Deutsch LA, where he most recently served as CEO.

“I have known him for a long time and Eric is one of those rare multitalented people who managed to build a billion dollar business from the ground up in a difficult, competitive industry,” Activision Blizzard Chief Executive Bobby Kotick said in a news release.

In addition to the “Call of Duty” franchise, Activision Publishing is responsible for the “Tony Hawk” skateboard games as well as the “Guitar Hero” series, whose popularity has flagged in recent quarters.

Blizzard Entertainment, the company’s other main business unit, publishes the blockbuster “World of Warcraft” multiplayer online role-playing game.

Activision Blizzard is the world's largest standalone video game publisher by market capitalization. The company was formed in 2008 through the merger of Activision with Blizzard, the former games unit of France's Vivendi SA VIV.PA.

The company’s shares are flat in 2010, and it has been at the center of some controversy. The heads of its Infinity Ward studio, which created “Call of Duty,” were fired in March for alleged misconduct, and the two sides are battling in court.

Michael Griffith, the previous CEO of Activision Publishing, stepped down from that role earlier this year. He continues to serve as chairman of Activision Blizzard.

Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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