Oops, Britney Spears Does it Again in AOL Deal

Pop princess Britney Spears will be the latest advertiser across AOL Time Warner’s bevy of properties, as the New York-based media giant continues inking cross-platform marketing deals.

Through the agreement with Spears and her label, Jive Records — terms of which were not disclosed — AOL Time Warner will promote the songstress, her music, her soon-to-be-released album and tour, and her upcoming live concert appearance Nov. 18 on HBO, one of AOL’s cable properties.

Specifically, starting Thursday, AOL is making tickets for Spears’ first fall tour dates available to America Online members, before they go on sale to the general public. A dollar of each ticket sold through the service will go to benefit a charity for the children of New York City firefighters and police officers killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The marketing agreement also includes a Britney Spears keyword and site on the America Online service. From the site, fans will be able to download a Spears screensaver, an official Spears “skin” for AOL’s Winamp MP3 player, and a Spears channel on the company’s new Radio@AOL streaming music service. Spears also will record special AOL greetings — such as, “You’ve Got Mail.”

Additionally, America Online members will gain access to exclusive Spears chats, music and videos, including behind-the-scenes footage, photographs and a diary from Spears’ tour. The company also said Spears would correspond with America Online members through the service.

AOL also said it plans to launch a contest, in which America Online members can win a chance to attend sound check “parties” and sit on stage at one of Spears’ concerts.

Company officials also said that AOL would feature the pop sensation in additional original programming, but did not elaborate.

While the deal is primarily aimed at boosting interest in Spears’ music and upcoming tour, AOL will also use the opportunity to promote its own service. For one, AOL is making the early admission Spears tickets available at America Online’s AOL Box Office, which launched in March and was touted to investors on Wednesday’s earnings call as one of the company’s strongest new features.

Additionally, AOL said America Online software would be included on every domestic copy of Spears’ forthcoming self-titled album. The pop icon’s official Web site, britneyspears.com, also will include information on the AOL service and links to download the software.

“We are in the midst of transforming the online music experience for consumers, and this relationship between America Online and Britney Spears truly speaks to the Internet’s ability to reinvent the way that music is marketed,” said AOL chairman and chief executive Barry Schuler. “We are building a new model that creates lasting value for both AOL and Britney, and brings great benefits to our more than 31 million members around the world.”

In particular, the news is aimed at serving as an example of the kinds of marketing deals AOL hopes to create in conjunction with its AOL Music division, which includes Radio@AOL and the AOL Music Channel, Winamp, and Internet streaming audio sites Spinner.com and SHOUTcast.

“AOL Music is redefining the way we connect artists and fans, and this relationship with Britney represents a new kind of celebrity sponsorship in which we will create lasting interactive connections between Britney and her fans,” said AOL senior vice president Kevin Conroy, who heads the division. “Beginning with her fall tour … and throughout 2002, [AOL members] will enjoy opportunities to get to know Britney and her music on a deeper level, through campaigns that will bring her to life across the service and Web properties.”

For her part, the 20-year-old pop star said in a statement that she was excited “to kick off my fall tour with the entire America Online community behind me, and it also means so much to me that I am able to extend my contribution to the victims’ children of the September 11 attack on our nation.”

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