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The Big News: Day one of Web Attack!
by Ryan Monceaux, Editor In Chief

NEW YORK - On the first day of Iconocast's Web Attack!, Editor and CEO Michael Tchong promised that the second-year industry event would turn up the heat on it's competitors, delivering a form of "infotainment" unmatched by other Online Marketing conferences. And so far, Tchong has been dead-on accurate. Web Attack! has produced not only meaty content, but a sleek conference highlighted by the off-Broadway premiere of Tchong's own goofy idea-turned musical, "King.com."

"King.com" is a spin-off of the story of King Kong (the promotional material for Web Attack! features the king of gorilla marketing himself) with the Internet as "the beast who tramples other forms of media" and teaches them "a lesson or two about life in the e-Marketing jungle." A cast complete with Broadway performers, stand-up comedians, a former Rockette, two choreographers and a full orchestra, "King.com" is performed in short vignettes, just before each session begins. Tchong's vision will indeed up the ante on the way industry conferences are executed, as this has been a unique experience for everyone in attendance.

The most interesting session of the morning featured a topic that expounds on the ideas of last year's Web Attack! In 1999, offline branding was one of the mainstays of the event, as special guest Dennis Rodman brought offline branding to a new extreme. This year, Web Attack! presented four companies that have brought "Extreme Offline Branding" into the forefront, examining how thinking outside of the box can pay huge dividends for online marketers. AskJeeves, Headhunter.net, XmarksTheSpot.com and WebEx demonstrated their offline marketing strategies that have gone beyond traditional print and television campaigns.

AskJeeves made history last year as it became the first dot com to be a featured float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The appearance of the 36-foot tall float, with the trademark Jeeves sitting on a pile of books, accounted for 128 million impressions on Ask.com, far surpassing the hopes of the AskJeeves marketing staff. The company said it would definitely be back in November at the parade.

Another offline branding tool which has worked wonders for AskJeeves is it's fruit label campaign dubbed, "Ask Jeeves Owns the Produce Aisle." Over 175 million pieces of fruit, including apples, oranges and bananas have gone to market with an AskJeeves label. Again, the company says the success of the campaign has overwhelmingly surpassed expectation.

Headhunter.net presented it's impressive mobile marketing strategy to the attendees of Web Attack! as a cost-effective way of getting your message face-to-face with your audience. While unemployment remains at an all-time low, Headhunter.net was able to hit 30 major markets in 192 days with it's traveling caravan of African headhunters. Headhunter says it will see a return of $5 million on an initial investment of $1 million through the use of this tactical campaign.

XMarksTheSpot.com, a cost per acquisition marketer, debuted it's application at Web Attack! under mixed reviews. The company has spent tons of money in a publicity-stunt campaign driven towards getting PR from San Francisco-area television and radio stations. The company's trademark car, the X car, was suspended from a crane near a busy highway during rush hour, well, until San Francisco police made the company bring the car down. The startup also drove the bright-yellow car cross-country in an attempt to get publicity, but did not seem too successful in doing so.

The question that came to mind for the CPA marketer is why waste money trying to get your name out to the general public via stunts when the people who should be seeing it, online marketers, make up a very small percentage of the general public? It seems a much more targeted campaign, one with a little less gimmick, would have been suitable for such a publicity launch.

The final company that presented it's Extreme Offline Branding campaign was WebEx, an online meeting network who has used drag queen Rupaul as it's spokesman (woman?). The line, "Meetings can be such a drag" has become Rupaul's theme throughout the campaign, hoping the personality of the former singer/talk show host will be a clincher in branding to the masses. The company spent $1.2 million on a Super Bowl ad but has mainly relied on small, regional buys as the chief way of getting it's name out. "Hyperbranding," as the company calls it, has worked incredibly well on radio spots, since the audience is captive and a great demographic. WebEx has attempted to rise above the clutter of other dot coms with its creative campaign, something the 6'7" Rupaul will definitely help with.

The first morning of Web Attack! was an absolute smash hit. Hopefully for all of the attendees, the afternoon will continue to roll. While the entertainment value is second to none, the content provided has been exceptional, something Iconocast stakes its reputation on.



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