MSN’s Launches New Ad Effort, Debuts WomenCentral

Aiming to boost awareness of its MSN portal, Microsoft Corp. Monday announced it is launching a multimillion dollar national advertising campaign.

Separately, Microsoft debuted MSN WomenCentral which will offer content under an agreement with Women.com.

The MSN consumer outreach expands on the company’s “Where do you want to go today?” campaign, created by Anderson & Lembke. The ad efforts center on developing interest in the portal, driving traffic and creating a strong brand and product identity. Showcased in the campaign are various MSN sites. The ad campaign for MSN is also geared to online marketers who wish to align themselves with the portal in trying to reach selected customers.

“The new advertising campaign shows people the value MSN brings to their everyday lives — moving them beyond research and browsing but helping them really get things done using the Internet,” said Dennis Tevlin, general manager of MSN marketing.

“As a rich network of integrated sites, MSN gives consumers the ability to do multiple, everyday tasks from one location — manage their finances, book travel, find a restaurant and then make a reservation, purchase books, CDs or cars and keep in touch with friends and family.”

The campaign is slated to rollout Monday with print ads in Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, and also on online banner advertisements. Spot radio ads will run this month in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Seattle. Outdoor advertising will appear in unidentified major media markets.

In related news, the MSN WomenCentral site has received major backing from consumer products conglomerate Unilever PLC , who has signed up for a multi-million dollar premier sponsorship. MSN contends that women are the fastest-growing segment of online users, citing figures from Jupiter Communications that find there are more than 45 million women now online, with 65 million expected by 2002.

“Women are increasingly adopting the Web for information, solutions and purchase decisions,” said Anthony Romeo, who leads interactive initiatives for Unilever North America.

“Because we are a company devoted to making women’s lives easier, we are delighted to be teaming with Microsoft to bring this new resource to women.”

Programming on the site will include content from Women.com, which currently claims more than 4 million women monthly visitors. Features such as Women’s Wire news, CareerCoach, family information, fitness and health advice and the Consumer Savvy guide.

Additional editorial resources will be mined from Women.com’s alliance with The Hearst Corp.’s HomeArts site and astrology from AstroNet. Other major companies involved with Hearst and the Women.com network include Bloomberg L.P., Rodale Press and Hallmark.

“MSN clearly recognizes that as today’s woman is balancing the aspects of her life — home, family, career — her most valuable commodity is her time, an area in which we excel in providing a rich network of resources for women,” said Ellen Pack, senior vice president and general manager of Women.com.

With that in mind, WomenCentral was designed to make it easy to find expert advice, peer support, services and information women can use every day.”

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