Bits and Bytes for March 30, 2004

AOL Celebrates Anti-Spam Victory With Sweepstakes

Seeking to publicize its spam-fighting efforts, America Online is giving away a Porsche it won in a legal battle against a spammer.

The ISP picked up the 2002 Porsche Boxster as part of a legal settlement of a case it filed in April, 2003. The company won’t divulge which of the dozens of people it sued forked over the car.

AOL is launching a sweepstakes to award the vehicle to a randomly selected member who enters by April 8.

The ISP, conscious of consumer spam concerns, has lately seized every opportunity to showcase its anti-spam efforts. Besides trumpeting the filing of suits with fellow ISPs EarthLink, Microsoft, and Yahoo, AOL has loudly backed anti-spam legislation in various states. It also began blocking member access to “spamvertised” Web sites, and is policing spam sent from members to other members — efforts the company says are bearing fruit.

Amex Debuts “Webisodes” Featuring Seinfeld, Superman

American Express has brought some trappings of television advertising online: celebrities, video, and a big-name director.

A four-minute video advertisement on an Amex sub-site shows longtime corporate spokesman Jerry Seinfeld spending the day in New York with comic book hero Superman. The “Webisode,” the first in a two-part series, was directed by “Rain Man” veteran Barry Levinson.

“We are continually looking for innovative ways to engage customers and introduce new customers to the brand, and the Internet has already proven to be an exciting channel for us,” said John Hayes, American Express’ chief marketing officer.

American Express is supporting the campaign launch with an advertising, marketing and public relations campaign designed to drive people to the site at Television advertising, which will appear on national and cable TV, includes three 15-second teasers featuring clips of Seinfeld and Superman from the Webisode. Issues Challenge in Trade Ad Campaign launches a campaign to win over online advertisers this week, urging them to “Take the Challenge.”

The effort comes on the heels of’s previous aggressive entreaties to advertisers. Last year, the company issued a “Brand Increase Guarantee” that offered to give advertisers their money back if they didn’t experience a brand increase, when spending was at a specified level.

This time, is comparing itself to traditional media and taking on one of business publishing’s biggest. is guaranteeing advertisers that ad dollars spent on its site will outperform print ads placed on the Wall Street Journal.

Ad copy reads, “Your dollars work harder at than in the Wall Street Journal or your money back.”

Advertisers must spend a minimum of $150,000 on and use comparable messaging and spending. Ad effectiveness will be measured by InsightExpress, which will consider awareness, message association, favorability and intent.’s ad campaign will run in trade publications such as Advertising Age, AdWeek, B2B magazine, and MediaPost’s outlets. Spending wasn’t disclosed.

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