The new effort, via Fallon McElligott, New York, marks the 18-month-old start-up's first foray into TV advertising and will showcase the unique benefits the company delivers in the increasingly crowded, over-hyped dot.com space. The company's mission: To bring favorite Web sites and highly sought-after information directly to users. Essentially, eTour surfs the Web for them based on their interests.
"The term `Web-surfing' is now part of the American lexicon, but it is searching and you have to do all the work-clicking and typing," said Jim Lanzone, VP-marketing and a co-founder of eTour. "It's one of the dirty little secrets of the Web."
eTour users sign up by choosing topics within categories that interest them-such as "News/Information" or "Arts & Entertainment." eTour brings the sites to them on a daily basis. ETour sets up a home page for users making it the start screen for the Web experience, similar to My Yahoo! A "next site" button at the bottom of the screen allows users to page through home pages for each category of interest without clicking through endless lists of Web sites.
"Surfing with eTour is almost like surfing with a remote control," said John Gerzema, managing partner of Fallon's New York office.
Users earn Tour Points that can be redeemed for gift certificates on products and services from some 30 sites, including those for Barnes & Noble, CompUSA, Delta Air Lines and Target Stores. There's no cost to join, and the company projects it will have 1 million members by the end of January.
THREE SPOTS, FIVE CITIES
The campaign breaks in spot and cable TV programming with three ads in Atlanta, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
Additional TV executions will be aired in more markets next year, as well as print, outdoor and radio.
The commercials show users visited by characters who represent their interests in aviation, cooking and fashion. In one, five fashion models sashay through a rural community and saunter up to a young woman hanging laundry on a clothesline. As the screen cuts to a fashion Web site, the voice-over says: "Now the things you like find you. ETour brings you sites that match your interests, so you can surf without searching. eTour."
Another, rather Hitch- cockian spot features foreboding music and shows a meat cleaver being waved at a woman in a kitchen. Looking up, alarmed, she finds a chef holding the cleaver and a lobster.
The spots target 18-to-49-year-olds, with a skew toward the 25 to 34 set. They will air during Fox's "Ally McBeal," ESPN's "SportsCenter" and network morning news shows.
Fallon won the eTour account in June after an extensive review.
E-Tour estimates fourth-quarter '99 revenues at more than $1 million. The company plans to file for an initial public offering in the first quarter.
Mr. Lanzone claims eTour leads its category, although he cited About.com, Looksmart.com and, to a lesser extent, My Yahoo!, as competitors. Referring to About.com, he said, "They find big lists of links, but you still have to do all the work of deciding which one to click on."