Promotions.com aims at business solutions

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Webstakes sheds its contest-like moniker today for a new name that CEO Steven Krein believes better defines his business: Promotions.com.

With its new name, stock symbol, logo and the launch of its first major ad campaign, Promotions. com is trying to remind potential customers that it's more than just a popular Web site.

Ads created by Heater Advertising, Boston, and running today in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and trade publications position Promotions.com as a business-to-business company that provides clients with tools for running online promotions, permission-based direct marketing and targeted e-mail campaigns. The consumer-oriented Webstakes. com site will continue to exist as an option for marketers interested in running online promotions.

"I think the entire business marketplace thought we were a business-to-consumer Web site, when we've always been a solutions provider," Mr. Krein said. "The site became wildly successful for consumers and ended up becoming the defining property for our company."

"If you look at the name Promotions.com, it accurately reflects our current offering and long-term vision," he said. "With one word, it supports everything we've been doing and will continue doing."

Webstakes executives began talking seriously about changing the company name and launching a new branding campaign a few months ago.

It cost the company, which went public in September, somewhere in the six figures to purchase the Promotions.com URL from a manufacturer of silk-screened promotional products, but Mr. Krein believes the investment is worth much more considering the predicted spending increase on Internet promotions.

ONLINE PROMO BOOM

An online promotions report published by Forrester Research in July 1998 predicted that promotion spending would exceed general online ad spending and that promotions will account for 50% to 70% of Internet marketing budgets by 2003, compared with just 15% of ad budgets in 1998.

Promotions.com's initial print campaign, which includes the toned-down blue logo and focuses on proprietary technology and big-name clients like Compaq Computer Corp. and NBC.com, marks the first substantial advertising for the 4-year-old company.

"I don't know if the industry would have been ready for this [advertising and positioning] a year or two ago," Mr. Krein said. "People now understand that promotion, which has been alive and well in the real world for 120 years, is alive and ready on the Internet."

Promotions.com's $20 million marketing budget will include ongoing trade ads featuring promotion case studies, business-to-business development as well as sponsorship of promotion industry events, said Unity Stokes, director of marketing.

SOPHISTICATED IMAGE

"Part of the [rebranding] process was determining whether we wanted to portray ourselves as a technology solutions company or a creative solutions company," Mr. Stokes said. "We figured we'd have an opportunity to keep our fun, splashy brand with Webstakes.com, but we wanted to portray a sophisticated business-to-business image with our new identity."

Although the name change markets Promotions.com differently in the public eye, it hasn't altered the workings of the New York-based corporate machine.

"Companies are starting to realize that it's not about doing an Internet and a direct marketing promotion; it's about including the Internet within the promotion," Mr. Krein said. "Internet promotion can become the centerpiece for an integrated plan."

Promotions.com also plans to grow internationally, to expand the promotions market and add to the vast database of 3 million detailed demographic profiles it uses in the U.S.

Last week, it announced an alliance with TKAI, an e-commerce development company operating in Japan, to launch a similar Webstakes.com site in that nation, in order to create country-specific demographic profiles.

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