Netscape Goes Hollywood to Boost Netcenter

Netscape Communications Corp. today announced a $10 million marketing campaign in which it will hook up with Hollywood heavy hitters to entice Netizens into the revamped Netcenter portal site.

The move is part of a push by Netscape to bring more mainstream consumers to the Netcenter “front door” to supplement the technical and business user base the company has already established.

The campaign represents a new approach by Netscape to compete more directly with the leading portal players; the company realizes the value that mainstream users bring with them when they visit, as evidenced yesterday by Yahoo!’s notable increase in second quarter income and traffic growth.

The new marketing effort will include initiatives with Time Warner unit Warner Brothers, Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paramount-owned Entertainment Tonight, Sony Corp.’s Columbia TriStar Interactive, Hollywood Online and Sony Electronics.

The company said this is the first in a series of multimedia alliances–other potential partners being bandied about include CBS, Disney and Fox.

Last week Netscape’s Mike Homer, executive vice president and general manager of Netcenter, said Netscape was in discussions with entertainment companies including Time Warner Inc. and major TV networks concerning agreements.

“With the launch of our new Netscape Netcenter Portal site complete, Netscape is embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign to drive membership and raise awareness of the breadth of information and services now available,” said Homer in a statement. “The marketing plans we are announcing today represent the first in a series of Netscape initiatives to expand and promote Netscape Netcenter.”

In its push to drive Netcenter traffic, Netscape said it will launch a “Netscape Silver Screen Sweepstakes” promotion to be co-sponsored by the various Hollywood entities. The campaign aims to get Net users to use Netscape WebMail by USA.NET, an effort that will be supported by offering entertainment prizes such as a Sony Maximum Television Home Entertainment System. The sweepstakes promo was co-created with New York-based game and sweepstakes developers Yoyodyne Entertainment Inc.

Netscape also said it will roll out an online advertising blitz starting July 20 to support the Netcenter promotion. Print and broadcast advertising is scheduled to launch in the Fall. The company said it expects to receive millions of impressions through these efforts and banner placements on the Hollywood sponsor sites.

The Hollywood sweepstakes is just the first of what Netscape said will be a
series of seasonal promotions. The company disclosed that it will debut
another direct marketing program at year’s end called “Tell a Friend,” a campaign that will encourage Netcenter users to bring people they know to the portal.

“We want Internet users to know that Netcenter is not only a resource for business and computing services, but also serves as a leading consumer destination as well,” said Homer. “The increased emphasis on entertainment and consumer content is reflected in our choice of leading co-sponsors such as Sony for this new promotion.”

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