Ads break today in USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other major dailies; TV spots are in development.
The software giant's MSN Internet access service announced plans for a "switcher" campaign on May 29, just days after AOL hiked its monthly access rate by $1.95 to $23.90. The new rate takes effect this summer.
'An A+ rated service'
Microsoft is now offering three free months of MSN, after which time users will be charged a rate of $21.95 per month until 2003. The ad's headline reads: "Tired of AOL, Try MSN -- an A+ rated service." Ad copy touts MSN's shopping, search, instant messaging, music and financial news features and "fewer busy signals."
AOL has 28 million subscribers, while MSN has more than 5 million. Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, handles advertising for MSN.
"Customers are looking for an alternative to AOL. The price increase has been shown to be a catalyst for users to act. ... Our phone volume has increased 50% since the increase announcement," said Eric Hadley, MSN advertising director, via e-mail.