First NYTimes.com brand ads stress 'Mind over chatter'

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New York Times Digital on Oct. 2 launches its first branding campaign to promote NYTimes.com.

Handled by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, the campaign from the Internet division of the New York Times Co. will be primarily print and outdoor, but will also include an online banner ad component.

Color page ads breaking today are showcased in venues such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

"It's really a headline-oriented push that focuses on the concept of `Mind over chatter,' which is the tagline for the campaign," said Lisa Carperelli, director of communications for New York Times Digital.

Print ads headlined "Omniscience updated hourly" and "The right now edition" end with the reiteration of "Mind over chatter. NYTimes.com." Ads in the Times are not free, but run at a discounted rate for the newspaper's online offspring.

Ogilvy created the campaign after several months of working to identify the target audience and how they relate to the NYTimes.-com brand.

'THERE'S SO MUCH NOISE OUT THERE'

"We performed exhaustive qualitative and quantitative research with focus groups to determine what our message should be to our audience," said Craig Calder, VP-marketing for New York Times Digital. "We realized that users look to us as a port in the storm. There's so much noise out there on the Internet that when they come to us they feel they get a trusted editorial voice that helps them to make their own decisions."

Streamlined ads emphasize quality over quantity on the Internet.

"We are keeping our execution simple and to the point, but with a unique graphic treatment that will stand out in a cluttered marketplace, especially during the fourth quarter," said Mr. Calder.

Regional print and outdoor components begin in the first quarter of 2001 in major metropolitan areas.

TAKING ON THE LEADERS

Mr. Calder, who sees MSNBC.com and CNN.com as major competitors, said "several million" dollars will be spent on the NYTimes.com effort.

Lincoln Millstein, exec-VP of New York Times Digital products, said NYTimes.com is moving beyond the "just a newspaper online" paradigm. NYTimes.com repackaged the Times Olympic coverage to enhance the online presentation and leveraged journalists such as sports columnist George Vecsey, who wrote a special daily postcard from Sydney that was sent to 25,000 subscribers.

"With our continuous news desk, we are respecting the nature of the medium in that it never goes to bed," said Mr. Millstein.

In August, NYTimes.com hit a record reach of 4.6%, up dramatically from December's 2.8% low, Mr. Millstein said in citing Media Metrix data. Media Metrix said NYTimes.com was No. 4 among top 10 general news sites in August with 3.6 million unique visitors, behind No. 1 MSNBC.com with 9.9 million, CNN.com with 7.3 million and Time.com with 3.8 million.

$40 MILLION ACCOUNT

NYTimes.com is the flagship site of New York Times Digital, the parent company of Abuzz, Boston.-com, GolfDigest.com, newyorktoday.com and WineToday.com. Ogilvy won the $40 million account in February for these properties and NYTimes.com.

While it's is the first branding campaign for NYTimes.com, trade ads last year focused on the site's advertising capabilities.

Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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