Reebok next month will open an area called reebok.com offering Internet users a forum to ask questions about products, check out a calendar of upcoming sporting events and chat with Reebok endorsers like Shaquille O'Neal and Nancy Kerrigan.
AT&T on Aug. 31 opened its first consumer-oriented area, youwill.com, featuring information on AT&T products, a Phone Center store locator and a sweepstakes.
But in an apparent bid to keep some semblance of "traditional" marketing intact, both marketers will offer Internet users the opportunity to download print ads and TV spots via computer.
AT&T is showcasing print, radio and TV ads from its current "You will" campaign, created by N W Ayer, New York. In Reebok's case, "Instead of just putting up the current commercials, the new campaign will be available online before it's on the tube," said Adam Curry, president of On Ramp, the company that designed the Internet domains for Reebok and AT&T.
New York-based On Ramp has designed Internet sites for marketers including Schieffelin & Somerset and MCA Records. All are connected to an area called metaverse.com, a music information and pop culture site that Mr. Curry, a former MTV VJ, oversees.
Mr. Curry said "thousands" of people have downloaded current AT&T ads since that area opened last month, despite the fact that print ads take several minutes to see, and TV spots take even longer.
"The fact that you can get a cool video file and CD stereo audio file-a lot of people are into that," Mr. Curry said. "It's something that no one's really doing on the 'net."
"The Adam Curry site has the great young demographics that we were looking for," said Suzanne Kaufman, senior VP-director of new technologies at Media Edge, an Ayer unit. "We're thinking of it very much as a magazine analogy. We're looking for certain `editorial' adjacencies to attract readers."
Whether Reebok will use its area to market products is a matter of debate. Reebok executives say they are sensitive to Internet users' concerns about blatant commercialism on the global network. They say they don't plan to use the service to market products, but could use it to get consumer feedback.
Mr. Curry, on the other hand, says transactions are part of the plan.
"They will have an area where you can look at products [and] order right on the 'net," he said, adding that some products may be sold exclusively online.
AT&T so far has used its site only to offer information on its stores and products.
"We're not selling on the Internet; we are merely telling people here's where you can find out more," said Linda Urben, AT&T brand advertising manager.
But an AT&T spokesman acknowledged the marketer's interest in making transactions via the Internet. "I would think that it goes without question that there's not only interest, it's inevitable," he said.