Amex Claims Robust Traffic for Seinfeld Webisode

Innovative PR strategy gooses online visits

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% The Jerry Seinfeld/Superman Web movie from American Express is on its way to becoming the latest online-ad phenomenon. American Express' "Webisode," launched March 29, garnered 1.1 million unique visitors in its first two weeks, according to the company.

Greg Stuart, CEO of the New York-based Interactive Advertising Bureau, said of the traffic figure, "It is phenomenal. An advertiser who is using the Internet to drive everyone on to the Internet. Finally someone gets it." He went on to say that "for 1 million people who went out of their way to watch a five-minute video online, that speaks for itself. I don't think we've had that kind of repeat viewing since TiVo gave out details of how many people watched Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction."

Behind the high Web traffic is a novel marketing strategy, which began with a simple, old-fashioned public relations blitz. Amex drafted IPG's PR shop Bragman Nyman Cafarelli to organize a press conference with the comedian that generated TV coverage including "Access Hollywood," E! and CNBC. Print outlets like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post also ran stories. Amex and its ad agency, Ogilvy & Mather, New York, also helped produce a segment on NBC's "Today" during which Matt Lauer interviewed Seinfeld and an animated Superman.

Five- to 10-second TV teasers have also appeared. Grassroots marketing consisted of wrapping copies of newspapers in the Daily Planet and giving them away at commuter hubs, while guerrilla teams gave out Superman postcards in high-traffic areas of New York such as Times Square.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% The movie ultimately promotes the company's charge cards. When asked how many people had signed up for cards at the site, Richard Quigley, senior VP-global advertising and brand management, would not give figures but said the company was satisfied with the response.

Amex would not say what it paid Seinfeld to partner in the venture. According to Seinfeld's publicist, this is the only commercial endorsement with which the comedian is involved. In a statement to Madison + Vine, Seinfeld said: "From the beginning I was never just an 'image-for-hire' with American Express. It has always been more of a creative partnership… I'm sure it's a very unique relationship in the advertising world."

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