In the first phase of repositioning itself, online discussion site Deja News names Organic Media, New York, interactive agency of record on March 29.
Organic, which competed with three agencies for the account, will create a "mid seven-figure" online campaign, said Deborah Newman, VP-marketing at Deja News. Organic also will handle Deja News' online media placement, previously handled by Beyond Interactive, Ann Arbor, Mich., which participated in the review as did two other, undisclosed agencies.
Ms. Newman, VP-marketing at N2K's Music Boulevard, joined Deja News in December, when it moved from Austin, Texas, to New York. Also, Tom Phillips, formerly president of ESPN's Internet Ventures and ABC News Internet Ventures, was named CEO, succeeding Guy Hoffman, who stayed in Texas to pursue other interests.
In her new post, Ms. Newman is charged with broadening the site's appeal beyond the high-tech male user, the majority of its audience to date, and "expand that to a general user." Deja News reports 4 million unique users visit its site a month, according to its server logs.
Ms. Newman said she wanted to consolidate media placement with creative, which had been handled with an Austin-based free-lancer.
"Clearly [Organic] was the front-runner," Ms. Newman said, noting that she'd worked with the agency while at N2K and she wanted to hire a local shop.
The N2K connection also showed up when Ms. Newman hired New York-based brand consultancy Prospero. Co-founder Patrick O'Hara previously was VP-brand planning at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, which handled traditional ads for Music Boulevard before N2K merged with CDnow.
"We have a goal of being in the top 20 sites in Media Metrix's [traffic] rankings by the end of the year," Ms. Newman said of "very aggressive growth plans."
Hala Makowska, VP-managing director at Organic, declined to give specifics about the ads, which are set to break in early May. She did say, however, it won't just be "buying banners and buttons, but coming up with custom units," such as ads or sponsorships that contain Deja News content, or ads placed contextually near search results.
OFFLINE AGENCY SEARCH
The positioning also will be given to traditional agencies to create an offline campaign, which also will be "seven figures," Ms. Newman said. She declined to disclose finalists in the review, and said an agency may be hired on a project basis.
Deja News may also renegotiate some portal deals, which until now have pulled in and co-branded Deja News content.
"We want to make the user understand they're in Deja News," she said, adding that it's "looking at it a little bit differently now."
Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.