eBay Breaks With New TV Campaign

Online auction site eBay plans to break with a new TV ad campaign Wednesday evening.

The campaign will feature two 30-second spots and regional newspaper creative. The campaign was designed by a dot-com favorite, San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein and Partners. Spending was not disclosed.

The two television creatives — “Dogs” and “New House” — will aim to “drive home the point that you can find practically any item you desire on eBay,” said Henry Gomez, vice president for corporate communications for the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

Although the pioneering online auction company has relied heavily on word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing, it has made scant use of mass media advertising. eBay received national airtime when it co-sponsored a spot with Visa International. That work, featuring a husband buying his own lamp from his wife, was created by Visa’s agency, BBDO.

“Why we’re testing [television advertising] now is that we feel the
Internet has reached the critical mass when it makes sense to go out to a
mass audience,” Gomez said. “A lot of dot-coms in the past went out and
advertised before it achieved critical mass.”

“Now,” Gomez said, through television, “you can reach enough people who
are on the Internet to make it worthwhile.”

The new ads will run nationwide on every broadcast and network station in
primetime and late-night spots, beginning Wednesday evening. Buys include
“ER”, “Spin City”, “Dateline” and the NFL playoffs. Spots will run to the
end of the year, at which point regional cable spots will pick up in New
York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

“In ‘Dogs,’ you have our favorite pets breaking, hiding, losing or
devouring items we all care about,” said Gomez. “And the idea is that if
it’s lost, you can find it cheaply on eBay.”

“New House” reprises that theme with a family who moves into a new
home — only to find all of its appliances and furniture coming apart.
Luckily, “everything that breaks is available on eBay, from plates to
washing machines,” Gomez said.

Similarly themed print ads also will run in regional newspapers,
including the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago
Tribune, and the Boston Globe.

The overall campaign “drives home the point [that] anything you might
want, its almost certainly available on eBay, at a very good value and
pretty good quantities,” Gomez said.

In 1998, the company launched a print and radio campaign designed by
Acme Idea Company, a Norwalk, Conn. boutique. That campaign aired on about
10,000 stations nationwide. Print ads ran in national entertainment and
general interest magazines (including Parade, Entertainment
Weekly
, and Sports Illustrated, in addition to collector and
hobbyist publications.

Since that work in support of its debut, eBay has kept its brand- and
awareness-building efforts fairly under-the-radar. Opting instead for
partnerships — with the Cartoon Network, for one — and mentions on popular
primetime television shows like “The West Wing,” eBay has shied away from
big-budget promotions — making Wednesday’s launch of a new TV ad campaign
so significant.

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