NBCi, Headhunter.net Launch Career Sweepstakes

Long-suffering NBC Internet aims to drive site traffic and boost awareness of its features through a new promotion in conjunction with online recruitment site Headhunter.net.

The month-long “Find a Career That Suits You” sweepstakes is designed to drive job seekers to NBCi’s career center services, which are provided by Headhunter.net.

Visitors to the site must provide their e-mail addresses to be entered into the drawing for a career prize package worth about $10,000, which includes a new wardrobe, a laptop, a cell phone and a PDA. Mail-in entries are also accepted.

NBCi will promote the sweepstakes through co-branded advertisements that will air during several NBC TV’s primetime programs, including “Friends,” “West Wing,” and “Will & Grace,” as well as “The Today Show” and “Saturday Night Live.”

NBCi and Headhunter.net will also promote the sweepstakes through radio spots in selected cities, and in house ads on NBCi’s Web site.

The ads will encourage viewers to log on to NBCi’s career center to register for the sweepstakes after answering career-related questions. Spending was not disclosed on the buys.

The deal reprises a similar contest last year, in which NBC’s Snap.com (which later became a part of NBCi) and Headhunter.net ran a sweepstakes offering a package of $5,000 cash, spa treatments and other prizes.

Headhunter.net is gambling that the promotion will boost its membership as it competes with the two largest job sites, Monster.com and HotJobs.

“By developing a campaign that includes a promotion to the millions of NBC TV viewers and NBCi visitors, we are able to increase awareness of Headhunter.net to two large audiences at one time,” said Judy Hackett, Headhunter.net’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “This is a great opportunity to make job seekers aware of the excellent resources available to them on NBCi through Headhunter.net.”

“This sweepstakes offers an exciting incentive for job seekers to kick off the New Year by taking advantage of Headhunter.net’s database of more than 250,000 jobs and getting a chance to win a prize that would benefit any professional,” Hackett said.

For its part, NBCi is betting that the effort will promote its latest metamorphosis. Since its launch in late 1999, NBCi has been having something of an identity crisis: originally conceived as an ad-supported community network, the NBCi collection of sites were retooled as an e-commerce network — once community sites fell into disregard on Wall Street earlier this year.

Lately, the company has taken something of a step back, calling itself a portal company that “brokers information, commercial and entertainment transactions” — apparently banking that distancing itself from Web commerce will play better in this time of recession and e-commerce concerns.

But NBCi has other worries. At about 16 million monthly visitors, according to the latest Jupiter Media Metrix rankings, the site’s traffic routinely lags behind the big-name portals — behind Yahoo!’s 55.1 million users, MSN’s 53.7 million and Excite’s 30 million.

Its share price is also substantially off its 52-week-high of $106.125 as the result of a five-and-a-half month sell-off. At press time, shares of NBCI were trading down 7.14 percent, at $3.25.

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