FINANCIAL TIMES TAPS BBDO FOR U.S. WEB PUSH: $55 MILLION FT.COM CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO BROADEN SITE'S APPEAL

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BBDO Worldwide has nabbed the $55 million assignment for the Financial Times Web site as the venerable U.K. publisher moves to broaden its stateside appeal.

The New York agency will launch a multimedia effort -- including traditional advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing -- for ft.com in January. It also will handle media planning for the campaign, the first domestic push for the publisher's 3-year-old flagship site.

"The campaign is to give [ft.com] a serious presence in the U.S. -- to increase its profile," said ft.com Marketing Communications Director Paul Waddington. Currently, 40% of ft.com's users are in the U.K., with just 20% in the U.S.

While declining to give specifics of the campaign, BBDO New York President-Chief Operating Officer Bill Katz said it will tout "the notion that the American perspective is not the only perspective."

Mr. Waddington said the site is being positioned as "an international business portal in the U.S."

Mr. Katz said the agency plans to broaden that target audience to include executives involved in emerging technologies and "second-tier management at financial or corporate industries," including "up-and-coming decisionmakers."

NO DIRECT COMPETITORS

While ft.com tries to differentiate itself by promoting its international information capabilities, it will

be competing with the likes

of thestreet.com, wsj.com and bloomberg.com in the financial arena.

Although Mr. Waddington said "We really don't consider ourselves as having any direct competition," he does acknowledge the difficulty of getting attention in the crowded dot-com arena. "The key challenge is to stand out among all the dot-com noise in the U.S. and establish our position," he said.

BBDO New York Chief Creative Officer and Co-CEO Ted Sann said the agency's campaign will provide ft.com with a distinct brand personality.

"When the dot-coms first came out of the box, it was 'get my name out there and get me some hits on my Web site,' " he said. "Now they have to differentiate their brand . . . those that prevail will be those that get it."

BBDO emerged the victor for ft.com after a two-month review run by consultancy AAR/Bob Wolf & Partners, New York. The other finalist was FCB Worldwide.

The Financial Times Group is BBDO New York's first significant dot-com client. However, the shop has created branding assignments for companies -- such as Charles Schwab & Co., Dell Computer Corp. and Federal Express Corp. -- that aren't traditional dot-coms but have a significant Web presence.

The Financial Times Group also works with Delaney Lund Knox Warren, London, on its mainstream newspaper business and ft.com advertising in Europe. Avrett, Free

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