Like many of the startups in the “Dot-Com bowl” of 2000, video-conferencing company WebEx bought into the game partly with support from investors. But WebEx made a special point of it, deciding to announce an initial funding round of $25 million and its retention of RuPaul as a celebrity endorser in a single press release. “In an aggressive move, even for a .com, the majority of the new funds will be committed to a national marketing and advertising campaign featuring RuPaul,” the San Jose, Calif., company said in its dual-purpose statement on Dec. 7, 1999. "It quite literally takes a seven foot -- in heels -- towering glamazon to stand out in the crowd of Internet companies vying to capture consumer attention today,” David Thompson, then VP of marketing for WebEx, said in the release. “Naturally, we know that our web meeting services are head and shoulders above the crowd, but RuPaul will make that point in a dramatic, visual and memorable way. Because of our successful sales program, we are in the enviable position of being able to spend the majority of our recent funding on aggressive brand building."
By spring of 2000, the Super Bowl ad you see here had been complemented with a broad campaign also including towering Times Square billboards of RuPaul. The company would later spent a couple of years focusing on more targeted business-to-business campaigns, then return to celebrity advertising with a campaign starring Lily Tomlin as a version of her switchboard-operator character from “Laugh-In.” Cisco Systems bought WebEx in 2007 for an effective price of roughly $2.9 billion.
Director: Mark Bennett. Production Company: 1/33 Productions. Account Director: Toni Parmely. Creative Director: Kelli Christman. Agency Producer: Deb Groth.
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