NC COMPUTING BRAND TO GET AD BOOST: MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR CAMPAIGN WILL START THIS SPRING

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[las vegas] Network Computer Inc., a unit of software seller Oracle Corp., this spring is expected to begin an ambitious ad campaign to begin to build the "NC" brand.

NCI VP-Marketing Bonnie Crater, here for the winter Consumer Electronics show, said the company hasn't decided whether to use Oracle's agency, Fathom, Los Angeles, or pick its own.

She said an ad budget hasn't been set, but asserted, "We'll spend very significantly to build the brand."

One executive close to NCI hinted the budget could be significant, in the tens of millions of dollars.

LICENSING NC

NCI is licensing the NC standards and name to electronics companies to build a range of low-cost network computing devices for home, business and schools as an alternative to traditional computers.

It likely will do both its own campaigns and advertising with NC-brand licensees, including Thomson Consumer Electronics and Zenith Electronics Corp.

Thomson will introduce the first major NC-licensed consumer device, a $300 TV set-top Internet box under its RCA brand, in the spring.

The No. 1 U.S. TV set marketer, Thomson will back its initial NC product offering with advertising from Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York.

Thomson is hedging its bets on the Internet by working on a range of Web devices, including a PCTV, Web-access phones and various styles of the NC.

NETCHANNEL SEEKS SHOP

NetChannel Inc., a start-up that will provide Internet service for Thomson's device, is looking for an agency to handle a separate advertising campaign beginning in the second quarter.

NetChannel is developing a family-oriented entertainment service for NC-branded devices that allows consumers to select Web content, send e-mail and surf the Web.

ADDITIONAL $12 MILLION

NetChannel President Philip Monego said the company expects to spend at least $12 million supporting the NC service, the same level of spending that rival WebTV Networks used in a fall introductory campaign from Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.

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