Out to Launch!

It’s time for your weekly dose of launches! This week we have dancing pets, William Shatner, Kevin Garnett, and some help for the Olympic athletes.

Basketball footwear and apparel company AND 1 will launch its first brand campaign on Feb. 28 with "KG21," the first in a series of commercials. In "KG 21," AND 1 brand spokesperson and NBA superstar Kevin Garnett (KG) tells the story behind his journey to the League. Created by Fallon Worldwide in New York, the first commercial in the campaign came to life after the creative team spent two-and-a-half hours with KG during which he offered the private narrative of his life. The commercial was directed by famed music video director Chris Robinson.

Priceline.com kicks off a new radio advertising campaign this week, featuring none other than longtime priceline.com celebrity spokesman William Shatner. Shatner won't be singing this time around, but he is teaming up with a new co-spokesperson (spokes-thing, actually) - the priceline.com super computer that toils day and night to find airline tickets, hotel rooms and other travel products at discounts. Priceline.com also intends to work its upcoming ad theme into a series of online promotions.

Incidentally, discount travel portal Hotwire is taking rival service Priceline.com head on with a print and radio advertising campaign that began last month. The ad plays up what Hotwire sees as faults in Priceline's service. Hotwire is running the campaign in 16 markets and plans to go national in April. The radio spots, called the "Hotwire Travel Challenge," use a man-on-the-street approach and challenge consumers to try Hotwire and Priceline to see which offers the best deals. The print ad points out one of the differences between the two services, namely that Priceline makes users register and provide a credit card number before they can get discounts. Hotwire provides its discount fares without any of these restrictions.

Moving on. Kmart Corporation has unveiled a new advertising campaign focused on establishing a clear brand positioning for the company. The campaign debuted on February 24th during the closing ceremonies of the Olympics through television commercials directed by Spike Lee. Culminating 18 months of consumer research, Kmart's new corporate brand positioning focuses on establishing Kmart as “The Store That Understands What Really Matters in Life.” The print ads and broadcast commercials will be the first step in communicating this clear, differentiating position in the marketplace. The campaign is designed to build the corporate brand by focusing on demonstrating how Kmart understands what values are important in everyday life; things like putting family first, value for money, and practicality. The advertising showcases how Kmart fits into the fabric of its shoppers' lives.

Still dancing from their successful Super Bowl commercial debut, Carl and Ray, the new spokesanimals in the popular “Pet Shop” advertising campaign for Blockbuster Inc. appear in a second spot, titled “Tricks,” beginning this week, during prime time on CBS, MTV, Comedy Central and during NCAA Basketball. Ray the guinea pig, inspired by the Blockbuster Rewards poster in the store window across the street, performs “tricks,” including juggling mice and riding a lizard, to earn his reward. Four additional 30-second spots featuring Carl and Ray will premiere in the coming months. Each of the new spots was developed by Doner Worldwide in Detroit, and features the voice-over talents of Jim Belushi and James Woods. Spanish versions of the spots have also been developed and tested by The Bravo Group and will be broadcast on Spanish-language television networks in the United States beginning this spring.

A52 announced new details of their visual effects work for Go Film and director Rad-ish (Austrians Christoph Chrudimak and Mortiz Friedel) for TBWA/Chiat/Day's new 2002 Nissan Altima "cure for the common car" campaign. Nine of the campaign's ten spots involve A52's visual effects, including the newest - "Side Effects." The 2002 Nissan Altima high-impact broadcast campaign relates the car's "medicinal" qualities and its physical, mental and emotional effects. Each spot reveals some new effect before a signature sound evokes the dot-matrix din of a pharmacist's printer and prescription-bottle orange labels (courtesy of Brand New School) deliver the tag above the ad's closing shot.

From cars to tires - The Michelin Man takes center stage in U.S. advertising for the first time as Michelin North America introduces a branding campaign featuring three new television spots - including the debut of a spot featuring the Michelin Man as a space shuttle astronaut. The three new TV spots “Shuttle” (debuted Feb. 25), “Hands On” (debuting week of March 4), and “Dance” (debuting week of April 1) were created by Campbell-Ewald Advertising, Detroit, and will utilize the Michelin Man to demonstrate why Michelin is the best and most secure brand of tires. The campaign will retain the long-time tagline, “Because so much is riding on your tires,” and will feature TV, print and radio to total 1.4 billion consumer impressions while reaching 96% of Michelin's target audience. The network television buy will focus on prime time, sports and late night; including the Grammy Awards, ER, The West Wing, David Letterman, auto racing, and professional and college basketball. The cable buy focuses on sports, entertainment and news programming.

From tires to girls' best friends - as Maxim Online and adiamondisforever.com, an online source for information about diamonds, have partnered to create a new, interactive online cartoon that will help educate young men about the process of buying a diamond engagement ring. The cartoon series, “Buck's Diamond Dilemma,” launched yesterday on maximonline.com, and follows the title character at pivotal junctures as his relationship with his girlfriend progresses. For J. Walter Thompson, which produces the award-winning adiamondisforever.com website on behalf of the Diamond Trading Company, the online cartoon marks a significant creative departure from their traditional “A Diamond is Forever” print and television communication campaigns.

Keeping things on the net, Monster.com has created TeamUSAnet, the first ever career management website designed exclusively for U.S. Olympic athletes and Olympic hopefuls. A joint effort between Monster and the U.S. Olympic Committee, TeamUSAnet features an assortment of career management tools including a resume builder, job search access, an Olympic mentoring network, and other content specifically geared to athletes forced to address the “What's Next?” question for the first time, as they begin the next phase of their lives.

The Radio Ad Effectiveness Lab (RAEL), established last Fall by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and Arbitron Inc., has published the findings of its first major project, a compendium of over 50 existing studies on Radio ad effectiveness. The Research Compendium is posted on RAEL’s newly launched website. Key findings of the compendium show that Radio ads result in recall of copy points and brand names; Radio recall is about 80% of TV’s; Radio ads produce recall, even with distractions; and Radio ads create images.

This newsletter is compiled weekly by MediaPost staff writer Adam Bernard. Past issues are archived at the MediaPost website. Your comments, questions and submissions are always welcome and appreciated.

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