Terra Lycos Launches $6 Million Campaign

Terra Lycos is aiming to boost traffic with a new, $6 million television ad campaign that in some ways, marks a return to the past for the Web portal.

The four-week “Inspiration” campaign seeks to build on Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos.com’s heritage as a search engine, using the idea of exploration to highlight the various interests addressed by the company’s plethora of properties.

On Thursday, the site launched the first of two 30-second spots designed by its Boston-based agency of record, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos. The ads zip through Lycos sites while a voiceover reads, “Immerse yourself in the only Internet site vast enough, vivid enough and varied enough to explore all the worlds you live in.”

Russian tennis star and model Anna Kournikova, with whom Terra Lycos has a multi-year promotional contract, appears only briefly in the spots — in a shot during a tennis match, representing Lycos’ sports sites.

“We’re positioning Lycos as a site for explorers, people continually seeking to learn and grow,” said a site spokesman. “It enriches their everyday lives, helps them to discover new adventures through many worlds, that there’s rich and varied content you can discover through sites.”

The first ad, which promotes Terra Lycos’ travel, sports, games and finance sites, broke Thursday evening during CBS and NBC primetime. The second ad will debut in the middle of the month. Both ads will continue in heavy rotation throughout May, on network and cable.

The buy also includes season finales for shows like Survivor: Marquesas and events like the NBA Playoffs. The site also plans newspaper and magazine executions in key markets; details were not immediately available.

The ads are the latest from Lycos.com and its Madrid-based parent, Terra Lycos. In November, the portal launched a series of co-branded ads with Bertelsmann’s BMG, designed to promote BMG recording artists and Terra Lycos e-commerce in time for the holidays.

Last March, in the wake of signing Kournikova as spokeswoman, Lycos unleashed TV spots promoting a contest offering users a chance to “Win Anna’s Stuff,” including the tennis star’s BMW.

Ironically, while the portal’s newest effort draws heavily on Lycos’ roots as a search engine, Hill, Holliday’s appointment to the account in mid-2000 marked a shift away from focusing on the company’s search engine.

Instead, in the campaigns immediately following the appointment, Lycos opted to focus more on its vertical content channels than on its ability to help users find information on the Web. That position first had been highlighted in the 1998 “Go Get It!” campaign, which starred the site’s black Labrador retriever mascot, and which had been designed by New York-based Bozell.

The new traffic-building campaign also comes on the heels of the news that BMG is considering renegotiating the terms of its five-year contract with Lycos — a turn of events that could dampen the company’s chances of soon turning a profit.

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