INTERACTIVE;BMW BUYS BANNERS TO HYPE NEW 318TI COUPE

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Bmw of North America is pushing its entry-level 318ti coupe in its first-ever Web banner ad buy.

The car company last week started a one-month test on a cluster of sites including Time Inc.'s Pathfinder (http://pathfinder.com) and ESPNet SportsZone (http://espnet.sportszone.com).

BMW also became the second major advertiser for a tiny Generation X Web zine dubbed Crisp (http://www.crispzine.com).

Crisp was BMW's last banner ad buy, and it spent the remaining few thousand dollars in its budget on the site.

EXPERIMENTING ONLINE

"We're trying a number of controlled experiments for the 318ti," said Jim McDowell, VP-marketing at BMW. The automaker will evaluate the success of the program at monthend.

Cybersurfers visiting BMW's home page (http://www.bmwusa.com) will find a Web-only promotion for the three-door 318ti, said Amy Corrigan, interactive account executive at BMW agency Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis.

Consumers can print out a coupon for a test drive.

Contributing: Debra Aho Williamson.

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