Alloy bets new spots reflect teen spirit

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How do you get fickle, hip and restless teens to stop and listen to your message? Try a little gross-out humor.

Teen Web site Alloy Online this week breaks its first TV spots--ones that feature armpit odor and bird poop humor along the lines of "There's Something About Mary."

J. Walter Thompson USA created the commercials, the first work by JWT's New York office for an online brand and Alloy Online's first TV spots. Alloy previously used only print ads, created in-house.


The estimated $1 million initial TV campaign is expected to expand to radio and outdoor. Spending is expected to increase next year.

The TV spots will run on ESPN and Fox; however, the majority of the buy is on MTV.

Irreverent ads feature teens in everyday situations where something shocking happens. One spot shows two girls outside chatting and eating chips and salsa; a bird above drops a surprise in one girl's salsa. Unaware, she keeps eating.

"From what we understand of the teen market, teens react favorably to humor. The ads reflect a bit of humor and the tongue-in-cheek nature of the site," said Alloy Online CEO Matt Diamond.

The campaign's goal is not to introduce Alloy Online, but to drive teens already familiar with the brand to the site, he said.

Philip Conklin, management director for, said, "The ads show that Alloy gets it--what teens worry about, what teens are talking about, what they do."


The online venture, an outgrowth of the Alloy fashion and accessory catalog, embarked last year as an online community for Generation Y--ages 10 to 24. Alloy still produces the print catalog, which is mailed to 20 million teens each year.

Alloy Online has more than 800,000 registered users. The site sells apparel, accessories, footwear, cosmetics, music and magazines.

Teen visitors also can access e-mail accounts, chat rooms and message boards, and they can create personal home pages.

Content areas include astrology, entertainment, relationships and sports. Alloy positions the site much like a mall--a place for kids to hang out.

Alloy, which went public in May, lost $2.3 million on revenue of $2.5 million in the quarter ended April 30.

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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