IQ News: Disney And Infoseek Give Green Light To Go Network

The Walt Disney Co. and Infoseek say they’re good to go with their new portal, GO Network. The companies today will announce that the “public beta” version launched yesterday.
GO Network has all the usual portal features–e-mail, chat, clubs and search capabilities. Because this was the first portal built from the ground up, said Barak Berkowitz, senior vice president and general manager of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based GO Network, the navigation is different. “Follow-Me Tabs” let users move through services while staying in context, and every area in the site has a common navigation bar. Features and services alone will not differentiate the network, says Berkowitz. “It’s really about getting usage, and that’s about building a brand.”
That, of course, means optimizing the TV holdings of Disney, Burbank, Calif., on behalf of GO Network, just as NBC has done with Snap. A teaser campaign, asking “Are you ready to GO?” is slated to break Dec. 26 in four markets; the full-blown product introduction will run nationally on ABC, ESPN and The Disney Channel, with other cable spot buys, plus radio and online ads. Another spate of ads will hit with the final launch in late March or April.
CKS Partners, Santa Clara, Calif., created the identity and offline advertising campaign including naming the network; Left Field, LLC, San Francisco, did the Web site. The message, said CKS CEO Mark Kvamme, is, “This is a place that’s inviting and that will enhance what people do in their everyday lives.”
Executives would not reveal the creative or media budgets.
Under the GO umbrella are and, both joint ventures of Disney and Starwave Corporation, Bellevue, Wash., and related sites Mr. Showbiz, Celebsite and Wall of Sound, and search and directory services. As part of the alliance, Starwave was acquired in full by Infoseek, while Disney bought approximately 43 percent of Infoseek stock.
GO Network aims to be family-friendly, Berkowitz said, with features such as GOGuardian to warn about adult content, but does not seek to leverage the powerful Disney brand. “The brand message is not, ‘This is Disney’s Web site.’ The message is, ‘This is a great portal,'” he said.