Excite returns to television with 1st campaign in 2 years

By Published on .

After keeping a low TV profile for the past two years, Excite barrels back today with a multimillion-dollar campaign, the first work from new agency of record Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York.

The commercials airing for the next six weeks on network TV and national cable show everyday people in embarrassing situations. In one of the six spots, a man is trying to position an air conditioner in his high-rise apartment window. "With Excite.com, he easily tracks 23 stocks online," reads a title card. Just when he steps back to admire his work, the unit slips from the window and plummets to the ground below. The spot closes with the question: "If he can, why can't you?" and a whirling Excite logo set to the sound of James Brown screaming "Hey!"

Another spot shows a woman who's able to e-mail photos to her friends around the world with Excite.com, and then proceeds to walk through a screen door. A handyman who's able to hunt down travel bargains through Excite accidentally saws through his workbench while cutting a piece of wood.

EMPOWERING SURFERS

All the other search engine commercials focus on pretty much the same thing: searching made easy, said Fred Siegel, senior VP-marketing at Excite. "What we did is focus on the breadth of things that Excite empowers you to do."

Executionally, he said, "the spots are about average people doing pretty much daily things and botching things up. And even if you're not perfect, you can do Herculean things on the Web."

Mr. Siegel said the spots are aimed at people who are talking about coming online and those already online who are looking for a better experience. Excite opted for a TV-only campaign because "it has great reach and it's great for building awareness quickly," said Mr. Siegel, adding that future executions could include online and other media.

WITHOUT AGENCY SINCE MAY

Lowe won the estimated $15 million Excite business in October after a lengthy review process. Excite put the account, previously held by Odiorne Wild Narraway & Partners, San Francisco, in review last May. Odiorne created Excite's last campaign in 1997, which consisted of consumer print and transit ads. The portal's last major TV push was a campaign from Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, that was set to Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?"

The work is also the first under Mr. Siegel, who joined Excite in October from QVC, West Chester, Pa., where he was senior VP-marketing. Mr. Siegel succeeded James Desrosier, former exec VP-marketing, who left in early '98 to pursue other interests.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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