SLATE REGROUPS AS FREE ZINE

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MARKETER: Slate

WHERE TO FIND IT: www.washpost.com

CRITIQUE: Business models come and business models go, but not all of them deserve their own branding campaigns.

Slate, Microsoft Corp.'s foray into the online content realm, stuck its hubristic head out and tried an online subscription model for its zine. While Microsoft won't say it failed, the content is now available for free.

Meanwhile, Quantum Leap Communications has been tapped to capture the essence of the literate, earth-toned Slate in a banner and print campaign.

The result is simple ads that are humorous in a political sort of way, instantly recognizable to anyone who's visited the site and clever in all the ways that Slate readers find worth paying for (or not).

The now-it's-free angle could be played up a bit more. After Slate drew such attention for its pay model, it now needs to make an even bigger fuss about its retreat. But the copywriting might be just engaging enough to pull it off.

Oddly, ads are running on its competitors, such as Salon, and high-brow online offerings, such as those from The Washington Post and New York Times.

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