Netscape Spots Seek to Brand Portal in Wake of Merger

Netscape this week launched its first ad campaign for Netscape.com since the AOL and Time Warner merger, giving some indication as to how AOL’s “other” portal might be positioned in the future.

The $2 million “No Limits” campaign, designed by New York-based Draft Worldwide, consists of two 60-second radio spots aimed at positioning Netscape.com as the ultimate one-stop destination for both casual Web surfers and business users.

The spots, “Speed & Ease” and “Business & Personal,” discuss the various features available on Netscape.com, including email, horoscopes, movie reviews, stock portfolio updates and travel arrangements. The spots also promote a $100,000 sweepstakes on Netscape.com, which invites users to download the latest version of the Netscape Web browser for a chance to win.

The spots also feature the tagline, “the power of the Internet made simple,” and will air through March 11 in Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The campaign aims to drive traffic to a portal whose continued existence was in question for some time, especially following the completion of the AOL Time Warner merger.

When America Online acquired Mountain View, Calif.-based Netscape Communications in late 1998, industry watchers wondered what role Netscape.com (then called Netscape Netcenter) would play under the same roof as AOL, AOL.COM, and CompuServe, which historically has been positioned as a low-cost version of the AOL service (and which has enjoyed its own share of lingering concerns about its continued existence.)

Netscape.com’s future is even more questionable following the merger with Time Warner, and the cost-cutting moves undertaken across many of the media giant’s divisions since then. But so far, the only public change in corporate policy toward Netscape’s portal is its new, stripped-down moniker.

A spokesperson for Netscape couldn’t comment on how the ads fit into AOL Time Warner’s plans for the site, but rather said, “this campaign is a Netscape-only initiative that seeks to gain momentum for Netscape.com. I wouldn’t say it fits into the bigger picture of AOL Time Warner.”

Spokespeople from AOL did not return calls by press time.

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