Taking a riff from Microsoft's use of the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" to launch Windows 95, the online search engine Excite kicked off its first branding effort over the weekend with a campaign featuring the late Jimi Hendrix singing "Are You Experienced?"
Targeting West and East coast types who use the Web as part of their work and lifestyles--and make up 70% of today's Net users--the $7 million to $10 million campaign will break in New York and San Francisco.
The two 30-second spots use an avant-garde polyhedron with retro photographs, such as a woman applying hair spray to her beehive hairdo; print and online executions also support.
An ad also will run in The Wall Street Journal targeting advertising executives. Excite plans a promotion for agency media buyers and planners later this year.
"We want to be the starting place and home base" for Web users, said Scott Epstein, director of marketing communications for Excite.
However, he said the search engine also has moved into consumer advertising because search sites must prove their worth as a venue for marketers.
The execution is only the second time a Hendrix number has been featured in a commercial. Anheuser-Busch used Mr. Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in commercials aired during the 1994 World Cup.
" `Are you experienced?' was a kind of code word for personal transformation in the '70s," said Paul Wolfe, exec VP-executive creative director at Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, drawing a parallel to Web users whose lives are transformed by Internet access.
Creative uses the words "control," "focus" and "ideas" to illustrate the Excite message that its service provides more targeted search information, said Chris Lindau, FCB copywriter.
Excite participates in an ever-morphing category where search engines redefine themselves almost weekly as directories, content aggregators and other hip terms. Its key competitors include Yahoo!, Infoseek and Lycos, each of which has started its own ad campaign in recent months.
Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.