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EBay Paints Itself as Colorful Contrast to Amazon

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EBay is going hard after Amazon by showing its true colors. The San Jose, Calif.-based retail marketplace is airing a 60-second spot Sunday to begin a campaign themed "Fill Your Cart With Color," the first work from 72andSunny since eBay named the shop its global creative agency earlier this year. The stakes are high for the agency, which lost Target this year due to a perceived conflct with eBay.

The ad, which will air during the NBA Finals on ABC, pictures boring brown boxes rolling through an Amazon-esque shipping facility and accuses shopping of getting "beeeeeeeeeeeige." Then it pivots to a message of individuality, showing consumers opening up brown but colorfully taped eBay boxes filled with items they are passionate about, like fly fishing products, drones and leaf blowers. (Passion around leaf blowers is a stretch, but it works in the spot.)

The global campaign introduces eBay's new brand positioning as a more colorful competitor to Amazon. It also aims to shatter misperceptions like the belief that most eBay goods are used; 80% are new, according to the company.

EBay has recently made improvements to search and the way it uses data, according to Aaron Turner, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. "That's why they're investing more in marketing to raise awareness of their platform in the minds of consumers and leverage the improvements they've made," he said. EBay's price competition between sellers could help it compete more favorably in the ecommerce landscape, he added.

Ebay's net revenue in the first quarter was $2.2 billion, up 4% over the year-earlier period, while net income was $538 million. Of course, Amazon is a tough giant to beat. The company listed net sales of retail products, including commission from third-party sellers, of $29.3 billion for the first quarter, an 18% rise over the year-earlier period.

But as Amazon gains share and dominates headlines with its futuristic ventures, eBay needs to market itself to be more top-of-mind as a retail destination. The company spent $54.8 million on measured media last year, more than double the amount in 2015, according to Kantar Media.

The new direction follows research eBay conducted earlier this year in which it found that 93% of Americans want the things they buy to reflect the "real them."

The campaign "is focused on buyers celebrating that sense of self-expression, but it's because of our sellers that we can offer the best choice," said Karl Isaac, VP-global brand. "We're a colorful brand and we're going to intentionally lean into that."

That means colorful new packaging for sellers, along with a series of 60-and-30-second TV spots. The new marketing will also include outdoor ads, radio, digital and social . Along with 72andSunny, eBay works with Digitas, Edelman and Blue 449.

After taking a break from TV, eBay returned to the small screen over the holidays last year with a campaign from Pereira & O'Dell. Suzy Deering, chief marketing officer for North America at eBay, said the format was successful. "We are fully committed to TV as being a core component of the channel mix," she said.

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