Flipside debuts campaign on NBC's Olympics broadcast

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Flipside.com, a games site formally launched earlier this month by Havas Interactive and VivendiNet, makes a high-profile ad debut Sept. 15 with a spot on the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics.

Flipside will air two TV spots during NBC's Olympics broadcasts, with additional radio, print and movie theater ads, in a $10 million campaign running through early November.

"Advertising on the Olympics gives you a certain cachet,'' said flipside VP-Marketing Virginia Gray. "It's the big 'games' event of 2000. We also know our target audience was both men and women. We know the Olympics truly appeals to everybody,'' a good fit for a site courting everyone from kids to seniors.

Flipside also is sponsoring Jenny Parilla, who represents the U.S. in trampoline, which debuts as an Olympics sport in Sydney.

Flipside results from the merger of two games sites, Prize Central and Won.net. Havas and French owner Vivendi are making an ambitious play in the category, which is in the midst of change. One rival, Pogo.com, halted its offline ad campaign earlier this year to save money and recently was acquired by Excite@Home.

Havas Interactive's merged games site will field two TV spots, one staged at home and the other at work. In both cases, flipside portrays funny incidents wherein people are changed by having taken time out to play games.

Will any work get done at the office once people discover the fun they can have playing around at flipside?

"We hope not,'' Ms. Gray said with a laugh, adding, "It's not like we're shutting down America, but we are offering a nice break from the daily grind.''

Ms. Gray worked at Cox Communications, General Foods, Nestle and Procter & Gamble Co. before joining the dot-com. She hired her former Cox agency, BBDO South, Atlanta, to handle flipside.

Flipside and BBDO shot the two spots in Los Angeles last month with non-union talent.

Flipside shot one of the spots at Universal Studios, a frequent site for picketers from the Screen Actors Guild, which is on strike over commercial production. But Flipside's shoot occurred during the Democratic convention, and picketers didn't show because, Ms. Gray figured, they knew TV cameras in Los Angeles would be focused that week on the convention downtown.

The commercial actors strike is "tough from a client or advertiser standpoint,'' Ms. Gray said. "[But] for us, business must go on, and we must shoot commercials somewhere.''

Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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