Lycos leashes Labrador in new $20 mil ad effort

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Lycos used to go fetch. Now it wants people to stay.

The Internet portal ranked No. 4 by Nielsen/NetRatings is trying to deepen its bond with customers with a $20 million multibrand campaign. The effort touts its most popular Web sites. "Skeet," the first of three spots from agency Hill, Holliday, Boston, broke Oct. 7 on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" to showcase Lycos' music Web sites.

In the initial spot, a young man recalls a childhood memory of how he and his father shared skeet shooting -- but not a love for rock music. Meanwhile, the camera follows a compact disc as the son tosses it in the air as skeet for the shotgun-toting Dad. As an adult, the now-grown man explains, he can find new music and he asks his father for an opinion on a selection he found on Lycos. The camera pans to the elderly parent donning headphones as he spasms to the music.

It's the first work from the agency since winning the account in July from Bozell, New York. Lycos introduced its mascot, a Labrador, in 1998 as the star of its commercials. Now, the dog has a cameo role digging a hole in the new spots to reinforce the new tagline, "Whatever you're into, get into it deeper with Lycos." The former tag was "Go get it."

Two other spots prepared for the fourth quarter are for the site's shopping and gaming content areas, the most popular Lycos sites. In total, the company's campaign will feature 10 vertical content areas including auto, computer, entertainment, finance and kids.

The campaign is aimed at broadening its search positioning to appeal to a wider audience that wants to get deeper into an interest area. "Being a search engine put us on the map," said Jim Corboy, senior VP-chief marketing officer."There was a time when we were more of a concierge. Now [visitors] come here and stay." Mr. Corboy said Lycos' sites attract about 12 million visitors a month.


In November, the portal shifted its positioning from searching for information to searching for shopping, with commercials featuring the dog retrieving a pair of boxer shorts..

The new spots will also run on the season premiere of Fox's "Ally McBeal," as well as NBC's "Friends," and on sports programming.

The portal's $12.5 billion acquisition by Spanish Internet company Terra Networks will be completed by the end of the month. While Lycos is active in 29 markets worldwide, including Germany, Japan, Korea and the U.K., Terra brings an expertise in wireless arenas, a direction in which Lycos and the Internet are headed.

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