Online shopping: Latest campaign casts eBay as daily destination

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eBay, trying to break into the retail mainstream, this week launches a major branding effort that humorously takes off on an old Frank Sinatra song by using the tagline "Do it eBay."

The anticipated $15 million-plus integrated campaign this holiday season marks eBay's return to TV advertising after two years.

The campaign focuses not just on eBay's auctions and collectibles, but on the site as an everyday shopping destination, said Gary Briggs, VP-consumer marketing, eBay. "We want to ask consumers to consider eBay on a daily basis" for shopping needs, he said. "We have huge consumer awareness as a business, but the understanding with the consumer isn't where we want it to be."

The effort comes as Amazon.com today breaks a prime-time network campaign in more than a half-dozen cities pushing online shopping covenience. Tagged "And you're done," the spots from agency Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., were directed by Joe Pytka and show scenes such as a mother trying to shop at a toy store. An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the tagline and strategy.

Ellis Verdi, president DeVito/ Verdi, and a National Retail Federation's Retail Advertising and Marketing Association board member, said eBay "needs to be perceived as a mainstream purchasing vehicle." Otherwise, "they will always be a tertiary player," he said.

Creative, from Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, features a balding Sinatra sound-alike belting out an eBay version of the 1948 song, "I Did It My Way." As he dances through various scenes, he croons jabs at mainstream retailers.

The campaign which broke Nov. 10 on prime-time network programming includes two additional spots, one for the holiday and a second reinforcing eBay's "Buy it now" program in which consumers don't have to wait for an auction to be complete and where products have fixed prices.

The marketing effort, planned to run through next year, also includes print and Internet advertising. The online-auction site has already spent $16.6 million in the first six months of this year in measured media, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. In 2000, it spent $19.4 million, and $15 million in 2001.

EBay is battling to be the place consumers start online shopping against rivals, Yahoo! Shopping, AOL and Amazon.com.

Jennifer Betka, VP-commerce, AOL, hopes to stimulate sales in the short selling season with a program capturing shoppers' favorite gifts which, in turn, will be featured in Macys.com promotions. "It is becoming a very competitive world-there are a lot of options out there," Ms. Betka said.

Though eBay's average user is slightly less affluent than that of Amazon.com, Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst of e-commerce at Nielsen/NetRatings, noted that in September more than 30 million individuals went to the eBay site, some 25% of all active online visitors.

Other online retailers also are pushing their holiday offerings. Buy.com, for example, relaunched its annual holiday magazine.

Overall, online holiday sales are forecast to increase 17% over last year's $11.2 billion to $13 billion, according to Juliana Deeks, associate analyst, Jupiter Research.

Holiday sales are expected to make up 32% of this year's annual retail sales, down from 36% last year, according to Ms. Deeks. She said the ad campaigns come as online retailers prepare for a short selling season which some analysts have pegged at as only 19 core selling days, six days fewer than last year's selling season.

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