AOL Targets College Crowd in First AIM Ad Effort

America Online has unveiled its first ad campaign and a new logo for its instant messenger service. The new work is by ATTIK, which the company has just named its agency of record for AIM.

Spending on the effort wasn’t disclosed.

The new visual identity, which AOL hopes will be attractive to a hipper, younger audience, features the familiar yellow “running man” with a bright red speech bubble.

“We needed something that had some sort of familiarity to the user. It needed to have some sort of stability and something they could build off of and grow,” William Travis, president of ATTIK, told Click News. AOL chose ATTIK because of the agency’s work over the summer on the debut of the free AIM Mail service.

The new AIM campaign, which revolves around the tagline “I AM,” is designed to introduce a college-aged audience to the company’s upcoming release of the AIM Triton client, currently in beta release. The campaign focuses on the AIM Screen Name and the role it plays in establishing identity. Online creative highlights the different types of messaging — IM, VoIP, email, video and SMS — enabled by the new Triton version.

“This brand campaign is to launch the fact that AIM is evolving from just instant messaging to this full communications platform,” said Amy Essene, VP of audience brand marketing at America Online. The company decided to focus on the college audience because it’s full of instant messaging early adopters. Still, AOL hopes the viral effect, which has gotten AIM to more than 43 million users with no advertising thus far, will help spread the message further.

“We have strong loyalty, and we can build awareness of our functionality amongst this dedicated audience,” said Essene. “College students are a great influencers for both younger and older audiences.”

Online ads, which will run through November, will appear on music, sports, entertainment and lifestyle Web sites. The buy includes MTV.com, ESPN.com, TicketMaster, About.com and the AOL Network. Additionally, social networking services like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo will carry ads, along with properties in the ValueClick and 24/7 Real Media networks.

Creative will drive users to a microsite at aim.com/you, where they can view the new brand identity, view a demo, and download the beta of the Triton client.

Offline marketing will include on-campus wild-posting campaigns and ads in 43 student newspapers.

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