LYCOS DROPS $18 MILLION INTO SPORTS PROMOTION

Campaign Stars Legends John Elway and Mark McGwire

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Lycos Network kicks off a TV and online campaign Oct. 6 featuring two retired sports legends -- John Elway, former quarterback for the Denver Broncos and Mark McGwire, former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman -- in an effort to showcase its sports and entertainment content.

The highly integrated campaign, created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, includes two 30-second TV spots breaking on sports programming on the Fox network and a contest sponsored by Yum Brands' Taco Bell.

Steve Gross, vice president of marketing for Terra Lycos, the global Internet network that runs the Lycos brand, put the media spend in the $15 million to $18 million range. Lycos spent $20.3 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2001 and $10.4 million from January through June of this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Cheeky spots
The cheeky TV spots

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encourage fans to imagine what life would be like as the best friend of either Mr. McGwire or Mr. Elway. The Elway spot shows the quarterback and a buddy riding on a tandem bicycle together, the quarterback tossing his new friend down a slip-and-slide, pushing him on a swing and rescuing a cat from a tree with the toss of a football. The spot closes with Mr. Elway and his pal munching on Taco Bell menu items and the hunky ex-quarterback wiping taco sauce from his friend's mouth.

The other spot features Mr. McGwire, but no Taco Bell product placements. He and a "best friend" have a pillow fight, play cowboys in a tree house and ride a merry-go-round. At a diner, Mr. McGwire and his pal play with their food, stuffing their nostrils with french fries as milk shoots out.

The spots feature the song "Best Friends" from the 1970s sitcom The Courtship of Eddie's Father that includes the familiar lyric "People let me tell you 'bout my best friend."

TV ads will run on Fox network sports and cable programming including Fox cable's Best Damn Sports Show Period. That show will feature on-air promotion of the Lycos contest "Championship with a Champion" presented by Taco Bell. The contest sends two winners and their guests to a 2003 championship football game with Mr. Elway and a 2003 World Series game with Mr. McGwire. Running through early December, the contest invites fans to enter online at champion.lycos.com or FoxSports.com, which is powered by Lycos, for a chance to win. Online advertising appears on sports sites including FoxSports.com.

"Our big focus is doing fewer, high-profile events and integrating our marketing efforts," Mr. Gross said, adding the contest promotion is designed to show traditional advertisers the benefits of online marketing.

Lycos has used sports figures before in its advertising -- Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova appeared in ads through the first quarter of 2002; Mr. Gross doesn't rule out continuing that relationship.

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