The $15 million effort aims to extend the CoolSavings brand, which has been advertised online through banner ads since the February 1997 launch of the site (coolsavings.com).
"Through offline advertising, the icon to the brand really comes alive," said Matt Moog, exec VP at CoolSavings.
"We can give the CoolSavings' piggy bank a personality by giving it a voice and really make it into a brand icon," said John Parlato, creative director at Doner, Southfield, Mich., which created the spots that will run on cable and network TV.
CoolSavings is an online direct marketing service that attracts consumers with promotions and savings incentives such as coupons, rebates and trial offers, at no charge. The company helps its advertisers-both online and brick-and-mortar retailers including barnesandnoble.com, eToys, J.C. Penney Co. and Toys "R" Us-better target prospects by providing demographic information about site visitors. CoolSavings makes the bulk of its money from advertisers.
The private company is launching its offline branding effort now, Mr. Moog said, because it has established "a critical mass of offers on our service" and a strong user base. In 1998, the number of visitors to the site grew fivefold; in 1999, that number has tripled to reach 4 million registered users.
CoolSavings considers Valupage.com and Valpak.com as its direct competitors in Net coupons, but sees major shopping portals such as My Point and Freeshop as rivals in the broader market.
The ad campaign began with radio spots in late September and gets a boost today with three 30-second TV commercials. Outdoor will be added in spot markets nationwide this week and print will run in December.
The TV commercials launch on cable channels including Arts & Entertainment, Black Entertainment Television, Home & Garden TV, Lifetime, TBS and VH1, as well as on network TV.
Print ads will run in Meredith Corp. publications as well as Computers Made Easy and Fast Company.
"We want consumers at large to think about CoolSavings as a reliable and convenient source of savings," Mr. Moog said. "In order to do that, we have to build an awareness and a sense of identification with the CoolSavings brand."
Enter the nameless, sunglass-sporting, pink porcelain piggy bank: The :30 called "CEO" shows various employees lauding the executive.
One woman says: "No one has done more to save people money. I've worked with a lot of CEOs-none like him." Another young, impressionable staffer remarks, "He's a genius; I wish I could be like him someday." The voice-over tagline on each