America Online to Break Branding Effort

America Online Thursday will kick off a brand campaign aimed at establishing itself as an advocate for consumers online. The company will also unveil a new logo, its first redesign since 1991.

AOL didn’t disclose spending for the effort, but a New York Times report estimated spending at $30 million for the quarter.

The campaign’s tagline, “Want a better Internet?” reflects its message: there’s a lot of stuff out there; we’ll protect you from the bad and help you with the good. The new logo, designed by Descrippes Gobé, turns the familiar AOL triangle on its side to resemble an arrow pointing forward. It also uses a more modern-looking sans serif typeface.

“AOL has always had the reputation of helping new Internet users,” said Ruth Sarfaty, spokesperson for AOL. “We want to continue to build on that and keep coming up with simplified solutions for people as challenges grow more sophisticated.”

Sarfaty said the company chose the campaign’s themes after conducting research into what consumers want from the Internet. AOL has lately been pushing into new areas — with its In-Store shopping search engine and increased broadband content — while simultaneously trying to protect its members. To that end, it recently acquired the Mailblocks anti-spam service and introduced spyware protection in January.

The campaign starts with a series of print ads, which begin as double-page spreads in national news publications — the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The ads, created by the Martin Agency, show commitments AOL makes to its members. The company says it will protect them and their children from online threats, including spam and scams. It also says it will protect member privacy, provide the best communications tools, offer simple solutions, innovate, and provide good customer service.

On October 11, AOL will debut a series of television ads created by BBDO. The TV spots highlight AOL’s relationship with members. One has a receptionist looking up to see a huge crowd of AOL members gathered to share their ideas. Another has an individual member talking with executives about how to improve the Internet.

“The conversation is emblematic of the dialogue between our employees and our members every day,” said Joe Radling, chief marketing officer at America Online.

The TV spots end with the tagline “Want a better Internet? America Online. Broadband, Wireless, Dial-up.” Ads will air during prime time, late night, and on cable.

The company isn’t sharing details about plans for online advertising as of yet, but spokesperson Sarfaty said, “There’s quite a lot still to roll out yet.” The campaign will continue over the next 12 months or more.

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