AOL Taps into RadioShack for Canadian Push

AOL is aiming to boost its presence in Canada through an in-store and online cross-marketing deal with electronics retailer InterTAN.

Through the three-year alliance with Toronto-based InterTAN — which owns electronics retailer RadioShack in Canada — AOL Canada will become a “preferred” marketer in the retail chain’s stores, meaning that the online service will receive point-of-sale and in-store promotion in 470 RadioShack Canada stores starting next month.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The move is aimed at promoting AOL Canada — a joint venture between New York-based AOL Time Warner and Canada’s Royal Bank — to Canadians new to the Web and buying a new or first-time PC. (As in the U.S., RadioShack Canada markets itself as a newbie-friendly electronics store.)

“RadioShack’s world-class sales organization will be a great asset to both consumers seeking to go online for the first time and those who want to enrich their Internet experience,” said Steven McArthur, president and CEO of AOL Canada. “By combining the strengths of our two great consumer brands, we will make AOL Canada’s interactive services even more convenient and easy for Canadians to take full advantage of AOL’s industry-leading interactive services.”

Jointly, the companies also said they would jointly offer narrowband Internet access packages, and, when they become available, broadband access. Additionally, each partner will feature the other in future advertising and marketing.

For its part, RadioShack Canada will receive an AOL Keyword and placement in the Canada-specific version of [email protected]

“Canadian consumers look to RadioShack as an ideal place to purchase not only their new PC, but importantly the accessories and services they need to reap maximum enjoyment from their online experience,” said InterTAN president and chief executive Brian Levy.

“This strategic marketing alliance with AOL Canada will be a real value for RadioShack’s customers,” Levy added. “We look forward to introducing our customers to the exciting array of AOL products and services that will help make the Internet central to people’s everyday lives.”

Most of the deal’s specific points are still being finalized, AOL Canada spokespeople said.

“It will mostly have to do with point-of-purchase, ‘Take Ones,’ that sort of visibility of retail presence,” said spokesperson Joan Simkins. “There are a lot of opportunities … whether just packaging deals, or special offers, there’s all sorts of deals we can do to make it easy for Canadians to go to a reliable source to get that information and start enjoying an online experience.”

A sizable effort to win new subscribers is nothing new for AOL. Last week, executives at AOL Time Warner said they had made building subscriptions a chief priority for the company — a push that so far has helped it stave off the worst of the advertising slowdown.

However, with less than five percent of AOL’s non-U.S. subscriber base — about 350,000 — AOL Canada remains one of the media giant’s smaller international plays, with about 350,000 subscribers. Simkins declined to specify how many more AOL was hoping to reach with the promotion.

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