MSN to Agencies: Get Creative

MSN has challenged three advertising agencies to “push the boundaries of online marketing” and devise innovative integrated ad campaigns to run for free on MSN sites, in a new program announced Friday.

The MSN Creative Connection Campaign aims to improve the quality of online advertising and win more advertisers to the medium. The inventory is being offered free so that advertisers can create ads without financial constraints, according to Kathy Delaney, creative director of Deutsch, one of the participating agencies.

MSN isn’t the only publisher that has made efforts to encourage creativity in online advertising. For example, Yahoo has sponsored a Creative Summit series since 2002 aiming to elevate the discussion and participation of creatives in the online industry, among other things.

Eric Hadley, MSN’s director of marketing, said online advertising offers “the richest palette of options for reaching customers — sight, sound, motion and interactivity — along with the high-end demographic advertisers covet, but it is not being used to its greatest potential.”

Creative directors Alex Bogusky of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Delaney of Deutsch and Ty Montague and Todd Waterbury of Wieden + Kennedy New York, along with others at their agencies, will participate. The ad agencies will create integrated campaigns for their clients. The interactive elements of the campaigns will run on MSN sites. The agencies will work with MSN’s Creative Solutions team.

Miami, Fla.-based Crispin Porter + Bogusky is known for pushing the envelope with campaigns including its popular campaign for Burger King, the Subservient Chicken.

Deutsch, a New York-based agency, ran a Snapple campaign in February in which users wrote stories about their experiences with Snapple. Millions of users emailed their stories to the company, according to Delaney. The winning entry was used in a rich media Snapple ad featuring an animated Snapple bottle.

Internet ad revenue hit an all-time quarterly high of nearly $2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2004, according to estimates from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Online ad spending is expected to continue to soar.