APL scoops French online bookseller business

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PARIS--Ammirati Puris Lintas, Paris, has won a pitch to handleadvertising for Alapage.com, one of France's up-and-coming online booksellers that has recently diversified into household appliances.

The agency was chosen to handle the undisclosed budget after a pitchincluding Alice, BDDP et Fils and CLM/ BBDO, all Paris.

Alapage.com, a wholly-owned subsidiary of France Telecom, will launch its initial media campaign in the coming month in a bid to raise nameawareness before the expected entry into the French market of online retail giant Amazon.com, a spokesman says.

At present, Alapage.com reports monthly sales of 40,000 products --principally books, compact discs, video cassettes and games -- and 600,000 individual visits.

"We may decide to use television, if that media is available to the retail distribution sector," says the spokesman.

France's top audio-visual regulator, CSA, decided in February to allow TV advertising for dot-com firms in a host of sectors, including cinema, the print press, publishing and retail distribution, all of which have previously been prohibited from broadcast advertising. The decision has come under wide attack and is currently being reviewed by the regulator.

Should the CSA go back on its decision, billboard, outdoor and print are the likely alternatives to a TV campaign, the spokesman says.

In a related move, Alapage.com has decided to expand into Internet sales of household goods and appliances through the mid-March acquisition of e-tailer Marcopoly.

For Alapage.com, the acquisition represents "a push to diversify its catalogue" away from current staple items such as books and compact discs toward "a complete suite of complementary product segments."

Created in 1998, Marcopoly is one of France's leading brands for online sales of white goods, brown goods and computer products. Its catalogue offers more than 10,000 items, which will be added to the 2.5 million items already offered by Alapage.com.

The new product line is also likely to figure in early advertising for Alapage.com.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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