INTERACTIVE;AT&T, MODEM RING UP A BIG OLYMPICS WEB BUY; ANIMATED ADS ON 25 SITES GIVE VISITORS A TASTE OF THE GAMES

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At&t corp. is blazing new territory in Web advertising with a massive Olympic-theme Internet "roadblock."

Starting July 17, AT&T ads will appear for seven days on more than 25 Olympic and sports-related sites, search engines and Web networks.

BEYOND BANNERS

Instead of static banners, AT&T will run "intermercials," allowing users to participate in animated games. To move into deeper levels of interaction, users can jump to AT&T's Olympic site at http://www.olympic.att.com.

Participating sites include Netscape Communications Corp., America Online, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Cool Site of the Day and Yahoo!. Although the cost of the buy wasn't disclosed, executives at AT&T interactive agency Modem Media, Westport, Conn., said many sites were willing to negotiate ad rates in exchange for being part of the event.

"This is a roadblock of sorts, although we're not really blocking anything," said Steve Graham, director of national marketing communications at AT&T. "We're creating new gateways for consumers to go get involved with the Olympics." AT&T expects to generate more than 11 million impressions with the ads.

PRINT ADS TO SUPPORT

AT&T will support the Internet roadblock with print advertising in selected daily newspapers and trade journals.

"We're not doing this to sell more long-distance service," said Mr. Graham. "We've created a very entertaining area for consumers to go visit and participate in the Games."

Modem created about 25 banners incorporating animation and Java into creative work done by BBDO, New York.

"Here's a great opportunity to take technology and do some advertising innovation," said Art Melville, AT&T account manager at Modem. "The AT&T brand and the Olympics are perfect for this."

An official Olympic sponsor, AT&T has created a sophisticated site that allows users to participate in Olympic games, see live video feeds of the Global Olympic Village and chat with other users.

SIMILAR PLANS FOR OTHERS

"Based on reception, we plan to roll out similar roadblock and intermercial strategies for other marketers wherever they may be appropriate," said Mr. Melville.

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