NETSCAPE TO ADD TRADITIONAL MEDIA TO MARKETING PLAN: NET SOFTWARE MARKETER TO START REVIEW IDLE SINCE '97

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Netscape Communications Corp. is expected to start its first significant consumer advertising soon, and to restart a dormant agency review for its account.

The expansion into traditional media marks a dramatic change in strategy for a company that rose -- and fell -- by marketing its products almost solely on the World Wide Web.

The moves follow the May 27 launch of Netscape's first corporate brand campaign, an effort aimed at raising the Internet software company's profile with business users.

BROAD MEDIA MIX

Netscape last year parted with Euro RSCG DSW Partners, Salt Lake City, and began a review it later tabled.

At the time, "We didn't feel we had the right commitment level to [traditional media] advertising" to warrant the search, said Director of Marketing Communications Judy Logan. "That's changing. This [corporate brand] campaign actually solidifies that change in commitment.

"We need to get to people where they are, and to do that, we need to use a broad mix of media," she added.

A new review is "definitely under consideration," Ms. Logan said. "We just haven't executed yet."

KIRSHENBAUM EFFORT

Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, created the corporate print ads on a project basis. The multimillion-dollar effort, running for five months in business and computer titles, is expected to include eight or nine executions, each showing how a key customer -- such as Knight-Ridder or Home Depot -- uses Netscape products.

Kirshenbaum Bond was in last year's review and would be included in the new review, Ms. Logan said.

Netscape, struggling to compete against Microsoft Corp., has refocused on two key areas: software for the corporate market and its ad-supported Netcenter Web site (http://home.netscape.com). The company in January stopped charging for its Navigator browser, once its main business.

Mike Homer, exec VP and Netcenter general manager, claims 70 million people use Navigator and half of them have Netcenter as their default home page.

"The strategy is kind of simple: harvest those 70 million to start," he said.

Netscape today will announce Netcenter 2.0, an ambitious revamping of its signature "portal site" for the Web, offering an array of services and links.

Netcenter will rely heavily on Web promotion. Mr. Homer said he has secured front-page placements on search engines worth $25 million and barter ads worth $10 million as part of Netcenter's contracts with search sites.

UPCOMING MOVIE SWEEPSTAKES

In July, Netscape plans a Web-based movie sweepstakes in which Netcenter users could get daily e-mail with movie reviews, local listings and possibly a link to buy tickets.

Mr. Homer said Netscape is talking to "all of the major studios" as well as Ticketmaster and MovieFone.

Netscape is exploring other promotions with companies including Volkswagen of America.

In August or soon after, Mr. Homer expects Netscape to begin its first Netcenter print and radio campaign; the latter would be Netscape's first broadcast effort.

Netscape may use Kirshenbaum Bond for the project.

The advertising budget isn't set, but Mr. Homer envisioned at least matching the spending of Yahoo!, which last year spent $2.2 million on print and TV advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Netscape generated $31.1 million in revenues from Netcenter in the quarter ended April 30, a 46% jump over the previous quarter.

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