ING, AOL Sign $30M Marketing Pact

Dutch financial giant ING said on Monday its U.S. financial services group has signed a three-year marketing pact with AOL Time Warner to add creative flair to ING’s new personal finance site.

The two companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but one company source put it at $30 million. The pace taps into AOL Time Warner’s array of media properties for ING’s new Web site, ING MoneyMentor. The site draws on both editorial and entertainment content from AOL Time Warner properties for an “edutainment” experience. In addition to consumer finance information and tools from CNNMoney.com, MoneyMentor has content from TBS’ “Dinner and a Movie” show. DC Comics’ superheroes The Flash and The Green Lantern are tapped to present personal finance in an entertaining light.

The MoneyMentor site, designed with AOL’s help, is free to use. It is meant to introduce ING to U.S. consumers, while adding some spice to the mundane, sometimes tedious task of personal finance. The site is designed as a multiplex theater, with each how-to personal finance topic (paying for college tuition, retirement planning, 401(k) information) featuring a different four-to six-minute interactive experience.

For example, the college tuition segment features The Flash (in Flash, by the way) walking customers through the basics of planning for higher-education costs. The retirement section is presented as a distance race, featuring the Warner Bros. classic Chariots of Fire.

The two companies will introduce new interactive segments later this year.

“With AOL Time Warner entertainment resources acting as familiar faces and fun-loving guides, we think this is a great way for individual to start thinking about a topic important to everyone — their money,” said Tom McInerney, chief executive of ING’s U.S. financial services unit.

AOL Time Warner will also market the MoneyMentor site both online and off, with ads running on AOL, in Time Inc. magazines, and on TBS.

The deal is a test for AOL Time Warner’s latest marketing push, which seeks to finally wring benefits from marrying AOL’s interactive expertise with the company stable of media properties.

In one of its many executive changes during its housecleaning this fall, the company brought back Entertainment Weekly publisher Michael Kelly to head its cross-marketing initiatives.

AOL has struck a few smallish cross-marketing deals recently, including a deal announced last week with Boeing to market its new airplane through both AOL and Time for Kids.

ING has sought to enhance its profile in the United States, where the company does not have strong brand recognition despite having 14 million customers here. The company has tagged interactive advertising as an important avenue for connecting with financial consumers, who often use the Internet as a platform. The company is currently working on a cross-media optimization study with the Interactive Advertising Bureau set for release in the fall.

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