StarMedia Nabs Danone Work in Latin America

Food industry giant Groupe Danone aims to market to Latin American audiences using the Internet, tapping Alley-based Web publisher StarMedia Network to spearhead its first online venture in the region.

The partnership between Danone and Star Media, which focuses on worldwide Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking audiences, aims to increase the appeal of Danone’s fresh dairy products using co-branded sites.

The work will consist of “En Forma” (“In Shape”), a content channel on StarMedia’s portal dedicated to health, fitness and well-being. The “En Forma” channel will be based around content provided by Danone, such as nutritional, fitness, and family information.

The En Forma channel ties in with the branding behind Danone’s self-titled yogurt (sold as “Dannon” in the U.S.), which positions itself as the yogurt of choice for the fun-loving and fitness-conscious.

The agreement with StarMedia also calls for the two companies to create a new teen-oriented community site. The co-branded site will not only provide advertising and Danone-sponsored content, but it will also include co-branded versions of StarMedia’s e-mail, chat, and Web search.

Danone said it would be collecting, segmenting and studying consumer data through both the En Forma channel and the teen site.

The deal also entails what spokespeople described as “extensive” online and offline marketing supporting the sites, which could include the sites’ URLs appearing on Danone merchandise, in broadcast and print advertisements, and in point-of-sale promotions in retailers in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

On its end of the deal, StarMedia agrees to design, host and promote the sites to its audience, which it says totals about 27 million users.

Spokespeople said a localized version of the sites would launch in Mexico in June, with subsequent rollouts in Argentina and Brazil during the summer of 2001.

“StarMedia is the natural partner to enable us to reach a large and targeted market” in Latin America, said Danone’s chairman and chief executive, Franck Riboud. “Through this partnership we can build a dynamic and direct relationship with our customers and experiment in database management in the region, while users will benefit from special content provided by Danone.”

Danone has been present in Latin America since the early 70’s, and said it sees more than 10 percent of its total sales from the area. However, Wednesday’s agreement marks its first foray into Web marketing for the region.

Other offline marketers are adopting similar strategies as Danone — favoring co-sponsored sites and brand-friendly content over banner advertising. Clorox, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola have all gone that route, eschewing large-scale Web media buys for what they say is greater creative control and “experience” created by a co-branded site.

“This partnership with Danone reaffirms the value of the Internet as an indispensable medium and tool for global companies to reach their target market in an effective and measurable way,” said Fernando Espuelas, chairman and chief executive officer of StarMedia. “The agreement illustrates StarMedia’s ability to offer clients complete marketing solutions to fully engage their target market.”

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