AOL aims to shake 'newbie' image

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America Online on Monday night breaks a major branding campaign from TBWA/Chiat Day, New York, that uses the theme song from "The Jetsons" and the tagline "The future. Available. now..

The online service is using the ads to position itself as a non-intimidating mass medium, while at the same time attempting to shake the perception that it's only for computer newbies. Ads will appear during prime time on the Big 4 networks and cable over the next six months..

AOL has pledged $333 million for marketing this year, and spending on the ads alone could top $100 million.

Digital Equipment Corp. opened AltaVista ForumForum, an online site hosting 1,000 different communities offering messaging, polling and document sharing capabilities. The communities, each built on a different theme, are housed in a virtual "office tower" at

Visitors using the forum can join teams discussing work and sharing software and Java applets. "Tenants" can sign a free, 30-day lease to host a community. To stay longer requires purchase of the AltaVista Forum software.

The technology is designed to demonstrate Digital's networking and information processing capabilities. The AltaVista search engine, which debuted earlier this year at the same Web address, had a similar goal: to show off Digital's powerful servers.

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