CompuServe returns to advertising

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CompuServe today breaks its first advertising in two years, a campaign designed to revive the online service's brand.

The tagline is "Complete. Comprehensive. CompuServe. For those serious about Internet online." Spending is estimated at $1 million.

The campaign, which also unveils a new CompuServe logo, follows CompuServe's acquisition by America Online earlier this year.

Industry wags had speculated the CompuServe brand would be absorbed by its former rival after the sale. AOL has 12 million users in the U.S. alone, compared with CompuServe's global base of just 2 million subscribers. But AOL has decided to continue marketing CompuServe as a separate brand aimed at business users.


"They are both convenience tools; however, we recognize that CompuServe is a brand targeted toward adults who are primarily using the Internet online for professional use. AOL is a mass-market tool with programming for families and kids," a CompuServe spokeswoman said.

CompuServe will follow the campaign with direct mail and will distribute its software through magazine inserts and bundled with other computer software.

The service will also get a new look this summer with the release of next-generation software that includes new features, organization and user interfaces.

Gotham, New York, created the 10- and 15-second TV spots; DJ Dircks Associates, St. James, N.Y., developed print creative.

Media will include TV buys on "The X-Files," "Entertainment Tonight" and U.S. Open golf telecasts. Print will appear in publications including Business Week and The Wall Street Journal.


"In mass form, CompuServe hasn't been on the radar screen for a while," said Matt Lake, Gotham exec VP-director of business development. The new branding effort "is about getting CompuServe recognized again."

Gotham is also AOL's agency of record but, Mr. Lake said, the two brands are easily distinguishable.

"The reality is the market is growing very, very fast, and a segment of the population that may not be interested in AOL may be interested in CompuServe," he said. "There are two ways to look at it. One might be cannibalization, but the other is a larger overall market for AOL corporate. And over time, one brand just can't be appropriate for everyone."

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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