WEBVAN MOVES TO CHANGE IMAGE

Published on .

March 7, 2001

By Alice Z. Cuneo

In an attempt to become profitable in its remaining nine U.S. markets, Webvan Group, of Foster City, Calif., today launches a new ad campaign to reposition itself

Publicis & Hal Riney
Webvan wants to be known for more than groceries.
as a "last mile" Internet delivery service. The campaign seeks to broaden the company's image beyond its grocery store heritage.

The new campaign also makes Webvan one of a limited number of dot-coms that have re-emerged as significant advertising buyers in the wake of a widespread collapse of Internet-based companies.

In the first of three new Webvan spots from Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, a working mom makes her wants and needs known in inappropriate places. For example, she tells her children she would like to take kickboxing lessons, but she needs double-A batteries. A young man filling his car at the gas station is astonished when she tells him she would like to take a bubble bath but needs olive oil. A second spot will feature scenarios involving another working mom and one a working dad.

'Do what you want'
Spots end with a cartoonlike background featuring Webvan's new blue and green logo, which replaced its original grocery bag. The Webvan delivery man walks toward the camera, while a voice-over indicates "Do what you want.We'll deliver what you need. Webvan." Aaron Allen is the art director, and Mike McCommon is the copywriter.

Weban launched with advertising showing a choreographed version of vans entering a city and delivery men dancing with grocery crates. A second round of advertising showed the grocery store as an inhospitable place to be, with a deli counterman ignoring a waiting customer, and customers dropping, taking a bite from, and even putting a dog on top of fresh fruits.

The current campaign includes TV, breaking today, on network and cable programming, including Ally McBeal, the Today show and 20/20. It will be followed by radio, online, direct mail and free standing inserts, or FSI's.

Focus on nine markets
Webvan, which purchased competitor HomeGrocer last year, recently announced it would no longer branch out into the Dallas market, laying off some 270 employees, and would instead focus on nine other markets, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., Portland, Ore., Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Webvan's stock closed March 7 at 22 cents a share, matching its all-time low after a 52-week high of $14.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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