Web portal Lycos Thursday said it will begin running 12 different
animated signs on the tops of four taxis in Boston, beginning in January.
Those signs, designed by Boston-based agency Hill, Holliday, Connors,
Cosmopulos, will change as the vehicles move from block to block. An
on-board GPS-based tracking system will determine the taxi’s location and
deliver appropriate messages to it.
For instance, as the taxi drives through the city’s financial district,
“it will display live stock quotes, like the top ten stocks of the day,”
said Kim Patrick, who heads the Lycos account at Hill, Holliday. “By the
airport, it would run travel weather information. In shopping districts,
Somerville, Mass.-based wireless media firm Vert, Inc. provided the
technology behind the displays. Spending was not disclosed on the campaign,
which marks the year-old startup’s first client job.
It’s not the first time that big-city taxis have found their way into
portals’ marketing strategies. Market leader Yahoo! in October began
including Palm IV PDAs in some New York City cabs to showcase the portal’s
But it’s a radical step for Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos, which thus far has used fairly
traditional advertising media. Hill, Holliday, which has handled the
Lycos account since mid-1999, developed the portal’s “dig deeper”
television, print and out-of-door campaign, which began in October.
“In addition to traditional media channels, we were looking at some
expected places,” Patrick said. “Vert approached us while we were drawing
up that plan, and we decided it would be a great fit with … what they’re
doing. It really did seem to fit in with what we wanted to accomplish.”
Like Hill, Holliday’s earlier work, the taxi campaign is geared toward
positioning Lycos as a full-service Internet destination.
“With [the ‘dig deeper’ campaign,’] we are trying to build buzz and show
Lycos moving beyond search and more as an Internet portal that has these
exciting areas of content for the passionate user,” Patrick said.
“At first there were a lot of questions … about how it was going to
work and if it was gong to be approved by the taxi commission,” she added.
“But once all those were resolved, we decided to give it a go.”
The ads currently are slated to run through February, although Patrick
said the agency would consider continuing it and expanding the campaign to
other cities. However, moving elsewhere would be contingent on Vert making
its system available in other regions: currently, the company’s technology
does not support cities other than Boston, though Vert said it is looking at