Snap goes mainstream as portal competition rises

By Published on . broadens its scope with its latest TV campaign, going beyond the Web-savvy user to mainstream America.

Debuting April 2, the campaign aims at a cross section of the population, including kids, teens, families and adults.

As competition mounts in the portal space, targeting new online users through such mainstream efforts is becoming a necessity.


Initially running only on NBC, which jointly owns Snap with CNET: The Computer Network, Snap's spots were developed in-house by NBC and produced by Gartner, Los Angeles. The tagline is "Snap to the possibilities."

The commercials build on an initial TV campaign last September, with the tagline "Building a search engine as big as the Web itself." Saatchi & Saatchi, San Francisco, Snap's agency of record, developed that campaign; the latest spots were done in-house to save on costs, said Bertina Ceccarelli, VP-brand development and research, Snap.

"[The first campaign] was geared to existing Internet users who knew what a search engine is and were ready to tame it," said Ms. Ceccarelli.

"The next step is to broaden the message to include the vast number of users going online every month," she added. "[The Internet] has now become a mainstream media."

In one :60, a deaf child gets on a bus while another child watches from his seat. The deaf child sits alone.

Cut to the other child jumping off the bus at his stop, running inside his house, logging on and studying sign language on

In the next scene, the deaf child again boards the bus, while his new friend sits next to him and signs, "Hello. My name is Tommy."

"The concept is, you can use Snap in your everyday life to do great and noble things," said Ms. Ceccarelli.


The campaign features another :60 and two :30s. They will run during NBC prime-time and late-night programming, specials and spot availabilities.

An online campaign with the same tagline begins today on trade and consumer sites. Saatchi was involved with creative and the online media buy.

Also today, Snap launches an area of its site, Snap Online Media Center, that is designed to be a resource portal for media buyers.

The site, contains information to help media planners evaluate the effectiveness of Web advertising, including information about Snap's service as well as extensive links to news, media and research sites; legal resources; trade groups; and other industry information.

"We are trying to bring together all media buying and planning resources," said Julie Welch, Snap's VP-marketing. "This is a community for media planners to use."

Aside from TV and online, Saatchi-developed multimedia components--direct mail, outdoor and contests--also launch today in support.


Snap certainly isn't the first portal to chase the mainstream consumer. America Online, Excite, HotBot, Infoseek's Go Network, Lycos and Yahoo! have all aired TV spots courting novice Web users.

Lycos last fall broke its biggest national campaign to date. A campaign from Bozell Worldwide, New York, featured a black Labrador retriever named Lycos that fetched things, as a way of explaining how a search engine works.

Excite's latest campaign from Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, uses humor to show that everyday, klutzy people can do amazing things online.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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