ICQ, VarsityBooks.com Forge Broad Marketing Pact

ICQ, America Online‘s youth-oriented instant messaging service, and VarsityBooks.com, an online college textbook retailer, on Thursday trumpeted a broad-ranging pact that calls for the two companies to partner in targeting the online college market.

The deal calls for VarsityBooks.com to pay ICQ $9 million over the three years of the commitment.

The deal gives VarsityBooks.com placement on ICQ’s student-oriented content and commerce channels, as well as on the instant messaging application itself. VarsityBooks.com will become ICQ’s exclusive seller of college-targeted goods, including textbooks, for a one-year period.

Besides providing ICQ with merchandise, and, presumably, a cut of the profits, VarsityBooks.com will help distribute the ICQ application and co-market ICQ’s brand, by offering a co-branded version of the program and a co-branded student bookstore.

The deal also calls for AOL to get the opportunity to purchase a three percent stake in VarsityBooks.com, if certain performance criteria are met.

“At ICQ, we select our alliances very carefully. We chose VarsityBooks.com because they are uniquely positioned to be the leading online retailer and marketer to the college demographic which is a major part of ICQ’s audience of 50 million worldwide,” says Ted Leonsis, president of AOL interactive properties group.

“ICQ and VarsityBooks.com are two big college brands that, working together, can be even bigger and better.”

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