Achieving a big 'wow'

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For marketers who do want the bells, whistles and noise, Fort Franklin is screaming.

Marc Gallucci, founder and president of the Boston-based boutique, has been working on Bulmer America's Cider Jack for seven years. He designed packaging and collateral material, and his 15-person shop developed the alcoholic beverage's Web site-a sassy interactive circus of music, games, video, contests, promotions and animation and advertising. The site alone took about six months to build and cost about $400,000.

"The technology is there to really go nuts. ... You can create that social bonding, things that happen when you're out drinking because you have fun with the brand," Mr. Gallucci said. "It's a two-way conversation ... a legitimate conversation vs. a one-way lecture."

Mr. Gallucci said the site receives 3,000 hits per week, with visits lasting an average of about 10 minutes. He said people learn of the site primarily through word-of-mouth and through packaging, which bears the address. He said most spirits sites, aside, are too laden with text, and he's not concerned that Flash and other rich-media schemes may deter consumers with slower machines.

"By displaying your Web site with advanced technology, you're not trying to pander to the masses," he said. "People get impressed by different levels of technology. Why do you think movies invest millions and millions in special effects? It's the `wow' factor."

That may not be much of a problem. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, 33% of 25- to 34-year-olds and 40% of 35- to 49-year-olds have broadband access to the Internet.

Mr. Gallucci said the Internet can be better than TV ads, which are expensive and do not offer interactivity. He is among advocates who argue that Web sites must be tremendously interactive. He said though Cider Jack's site is heavy into games and other seemingly adolescent activities, it's geared toward adults. "Obviously we don't want some kid on the site, but there are 34-year-old men who have the youthfulness of a 21-year-old or an 18-year-old," he said. "It's whatever is in your head."

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