IAR Bits and Bytes

AOL Rolls Out Looney Tunes ‘IM Buddies’

AOL will roll out wireless stuffed animals that can speak pre-recorded phrases cued through AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), just in time for the holidays.

The eight-inch “Instant Messaging Buddies,” designed by United Internet Technologies, are based on AOL Time Warner sister company Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes characters, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. The toys sit atop a user’s monitor and allow AIM users to send over 150 pre-recorded messages, triggering Bugs or Daffy via light sensor to move animatronically and mouth phrases in the characters’ voices.

AOL said the IM Buddies, which cost $39.95 for the pair, will initially work with AOL Kids Only Channel online games, like Slider Puzzle and Music Madness.

“We’re thrilled to be the first company to bring these cutting-edge, chat-enabled toys to millions of AOL members and other consumers who visit AOL’s shopping destinations,” said Patrick Gates, AOL’s senior vice president of commerce.

Under new chief Jonathan Miller, AOL plans to renew its focus on e-commerce opportunities and using fellow AOL Time Warner properties to boost the flagging Internet service.

Eyeblaster Awards Modem Media Top Honors

At the second-annual Eyeblaster Awards, at which the rich media technology firm rewards the best use of its technology, interactive agency Modem Media walked away with top honors for its Snickers floating banner.

The winning ad drops a Snickers candy bar on the user screen, followed by a saw carving out a rectangle seemingly through the text. Eventually, the Snickers bar falls through the opening, with Snickers’ “Don’t let hunger happen to you” message appearing through the opening. The site’s text is then replaced after the ad, which lasts about 12 seconds.

The ad ran from Dec. 1, 2002, through September 30, 2002. Norwalk, Conn.-based Modem Media handled both the creative and the media execution for the ad.

Modem Media beat out more than 250 entries for the Eyeblaster award. The four finalists were: Caralano, Lellos & Silverstein for its Animal Planet “Gentle Ben” floating ad; Digitas Chicago/Avenue A for its Best Buy “High Impact” floating ad; i-traffic for its British Airways “Wimbledon” full-page overlay; and Arc Marketing/Giant Step for its General Motors “Cadillac CTS” expandable banner.

Novell Strikes Back at Spammer

Software maker Novell struck another blow in the war on spam, settling a copyright and trademark infringement case brought against a spammer who used a fake header from Novell’s free Web-based e-mail program, MyRealBox.

The case, filed in Phoenix superior court, alleged a Phoenix-based spammer used a false MyRealBox header in spam offering a database containing individuals’ private information.

“Novell takes this type of activity very seriously in terms of protecting our customers, our reputation and those who may innocently receive this type of unsolicited e-mail,” said Paul Feldman, vice president of Novell’s cross-platform networking services group.

As part of the settlement, Provo, Utah-based Novell agreed not to divulge the spammer’s name. The company received an undisclosed amount of money and got a permanent injunction from the individual using MyRealBox in the future. Further, the defendant agreed to cooperate with Novell in finding the provider of the technology to alter the header on the spam.

Jim Lundberg, Novell’s associate general counsel, said the case was the furthest it has gone to fight spam, but it was intended as a signal that Novell would not tolerate spammers infringing on its trademarks and copyrights.

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