Digital sports entertainment company Quokka Sports, hoping to revolutionize coverage of the topic as the Web's bandwidth grows, this week spoofs drug company advertising in its first major campaign. The estimated $5 million to $10 million effort aims to drive traffic to Quokka.com, a site that covers live sports events such as climbing expeditions, sailing and auto races, and other outdoor adventures.
Created by Lee Hunt & Associates, New York, the campaign includes TV, radio and outdoor boards running in five cities: Boston, Denver, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Magazine ads will run in 27 niche publications such as Climbing, Outside, Outside Women, Men's Journal, Sailing and Wired.
Tagged "A digital dose of sports," the ads have the feel of pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising.
A print ad, for example, shows a pill capsule, half filled with a sailboat race or other relevant sporting event. A page of small type accompanies the picture, with humorous copy that mentions possible side effects, such as "clenched butt cheeks," "heart palpitations" or "unemployment."
In radio spots, voice-overs say Quokka provides "the most freakin' amazing 24-hour live sports coverage available today."
COVERAGE FROM MANY POINTS OF VIEW
Quokka Sports, which is based in San Francisco with offices in Troy, Mich., New York and London, specializes in providing around-the-clock sports coverage, combining live video and audio, e-mail diaries from competitors, biometric data, professional commentary, real-time statistics, event maps and weather updates.
Recent coverage includes the Great Trango Tower, where three climbers are attempting to climb a mile-high vertical rock wall in Pakistan. During the ascent, the team provides firsthand reports with live audio feeds and photos. Other events included in the site are Championship Auto Racing Teams, including real-time race viewing. E-mails from participants also offer a firsthand look at the thrill of achievement or the disappointment of poor weather or failure.
Events are archived, so viewers are able to look up previous coverage, such as Around Alone, a one-person around-the-world sailing race, or des Sables, a 150-mile foot race across the Sahara desert.
The site, aimed at males and females 18 to 49 (60% of the users are male), is intended to allow the visitor to feel as though he or she is at a sports venue, said David Riemer, senior VP-marketing, Quokka Sports.
WATCH, CHAT, BUY
"You can watch the event, see how much time is left, talk to the person next to you, buy a hat or sweatshirt," Mr. Riemer said.
Quokka in February entered a joint venture with NBC to develop interactive digital coverage at Olympic Games through 2004; Quokka will contribute at least $15 million in cash to the venture, according to its April filing for an initial public offering. The venture expects to launch its site in August in advance of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.
This isn't Quokka's first Olympic feat; Quokka produced the International Olympic Committee's site.
Quokka's business model is built on selling exclusive category sponsorships to marketers. Sponsors can embed and promote their products in Quokka's rich-media Web content; tech and telecom sponsors will be able to showcase their prowess by getting involved in the production.
Intel Corp., which owns 12% of Quokka, has used Quokka's content to demonstrate the power of its Pentium III chip.
Amid its big plans, Quokka is still a small venture; the company last year lost $9.5 million on revenue of $8.6 million.
Currently, Quokka has a link from the Snap portal. Company officials, in the process of the stock offering, said they were unable to discuss plans for tie-ins with other entities for sponsorships.
Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.