Ads Are Animating the Internet

by Karen Raugust

Advertisers and sponsors look for creative ways to get their message across to web users…

Sindy, Altoid’s new cinnamon babe, is hot enough to make the Devil jealous! © Callard & Bowser-Suchard.

Corporations are increasingly looking toward the Internet as an advertising vehicle, especially to reach target markets such as young males and urban dwellers that tend to be frequent Internet users. But many question the effectiveness of banner ads -- the initial standard for Internet advertising -- and, as a result, are experimenting with new ways of getting their message across. These tests often focus on animation.

Altoids’ Little Devil
Altoids created an online animated spokesperson to support the launch of its new line extension, Cinnamon Altoids. "We asked, ‘How do we generate buzz with our Altoid consumer and consumers in general about this new flavor launch?’" said Andrew Burke, Altoids brand manager. The answer was to create a racy, animated spokescharacter that embodied the "heat" of cinnamon and send users to a Webster featuring that character, in order to introduce them to cinnamon as an Altoids flavor.

Bond, convinced that Sindy is too hot for most viewers, warns all who dare to enter the site. (He, on the other hand, wouldn’t dare to be without her.) © Callard & Bowser-Suchard.

The site,, launched October 1, 1999, and was the focal point of the Cinnamon promotional campaign. Burke says the company drove traffic to the site through "print ads in our core urban markets, where our target consumers live," magnets placed on street signs and subway cards, personal ads in local newsweeklies, postcards and posters. The teaser message featured the Cinnamon spokesperson and the URL on a light green Altoids background; there was no mention of the Altoids brand name. The campaign ran through December and generated strong traffic over the three-month period, according to Burke. "It far surpassed our expectation."

Traffic dropped off a bit after December, when the campaign ended, as was anticipated. "It wasn’t meant to necessarily live on its own after the mainline campaign," Burke explains, noting that incorporated a link to Altoids’ main Web site,, driving traffic there and building awareness for that site as well as for Cinnamon Altoids.

The objective of the campaign was more to spread the word about the new product launch over the Internet rather than to drive a certain number of sales of Cinnamon Altoids, Burke explains. Feedback from the site was overwhelmingly positive, with comments indicating that viewers thought its design was pushing the envelope for Flash animation. (The WDDG created the animation.) "It was designed to get buzz going with our target, which happens to be very web-savvy," says Burke. He adds that Internet sites such as Macromedia featured as a cool site, as did several print magazines and television programs. "It did all the things we wanted it to do," Burke concludes.

The company is now focusing its Internet efforts on, which launched in March 1999. "We put the URL on our Altoids ads, but there’s no special campaign to drive consumers there," Burke says. "We want [the site] to be fresh and relevant to our consumers and let it spread through word of mouth."

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