Marketers Pitch Teens with Online Promos

Verizon Wireless and two milk industry groups are both launching major online campaigns designed to boost their products’ appeal to teens.

Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless, jointly owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone AirTouch, is aiming to promote its [FREEUP] bundled wireless services to teens, using with a new Web site and online campaign.

The company’s new Web site, FREE[2]TLK, looks to capture teens’ attention and spark frequent returns using a contest and incentives. Teens can win a free Sony Discman or tickets to Sony films on the site, and receive a free copy of Sony Music’s compilation CD, “Now That’s What I Call Music 6,” with every purchase through the site.

Additionally, Verizon Wireless said it would heavily promote the new site by allocating a “large portion” of its fall marketing campaign to the effort.

Meanwhile, an online ad campaign in conjunction with Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment will promote [FREEUP] and the FREE[2]TLK Web site as well. The online media buy includes a number of Sony’s online entertainment properties that the companies say are popular with teens and young adults — such as gaming site The Station@sony.com, Dawson’s Creek.com and Dawson’s Desktop. (Sony produces the “Dawson’s Creek” television show, which airs on The WB Network.)

Sony said the campaign would use “odd-sized” ad units and interstitials to grab users’ attention, and would also use other media, such as sponsored mobile “Dawson’s Creek” updates.

Verizon Wireless also plans to use email marketing campaigns to opted-in members of VarsityBooks.com and affinity marketer Student Advantage.

The wireless telecom giant isn’t the only one using the Web in its pitch to teens. Starting this week, the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board and Dairy Management Inc. — two national milk producers’ industry associations — will run an “‘under the cap” campaign in conjunction with online promotions firm Cyber Loot, video game manufacturer Electronic Arts and AOL Time Warner.

The effort is part of the two groups’ jointly funded National “got milk?” Milk Mustache Campaign, which was designed by the New York office of Bozell (now an Interpublic company).

Through mid-November, stores will carry 300 million specially-marked gallons of white milk, each bearing a sticker that can be redeemed online at CyberLoot’s Web site or at America Online Keyword: cyberloot. Sixty million EA video discounts and 8,000 EA video games are up for grabs in the contest.

By enticing teens with the video game and entertainment offerings, the Cyber Loot promotion aims to encourage milk consumption among the group, which the industry associations say falls far short of its recommended daily calcium intake.

Both efforts highlight the increasing role that the Web plays in marketing to teens, who are typically more Net-savvy than their elders, but also often more resistant to normal advertising efforts.

Hence, the effort to launch contests and unique ad formats, and to associate products with previously established “cool” brands like Sony (Teenage Research Unlimited, a Northbrook, Ill.-based market research firm, named Sony as the second “coolest” brand among teenagers.)

“Sony resonates with this audience segment in both brand power and entertainment prowess and clearly understands how to target this segment with quality, branded entertainment products and services,” said Verizon Wireless vice president and chief marketing officer John Stratton. “At the same time, wireless technology continues to play an increasing role in the lives of young consumers, providing them with a communications vehicle for the delivery of information, entertainment and short messages. This is a great collaborative effort between a premier entertainment company and consumer product marketer and the nation’s largest wireless carrier.”

Added Kurt Graetzer, chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board’s Milk Processor Education Program, “The Cyber Loot promotion was created to help get teens to take note of [milk’s] benefits and their importance. It rewards them for making smart beverage choices, like drinking milk, with the stuff they love most and respond to the best — video games and music.”

This fact also has prompted other Web firms, like Alley-based Alloy, to make teen marketing solutions their raison d’etre. Alloy runs a teen-focused book publisher, owns several niche direct marketing shops and recently began offering consumer research reports — all in addition to its online portal, which serves as the hub of its properties and chief source for its consumer data.

“This … strongly illustrates how a marketer can tap into our branded entertainment properties … to go beyond the traditional and closely align its brand through a campaign that resonates with youth,” said John Henderson, who is vice president of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment’s ad sales network.

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