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AOL Shifts Brand Message

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NEW YORK America Online said it would launch an ad campaign to promote its new broadband partnerships, part of an effort by the company to make it synonymous with the high-speed Internet world.

The "AOL High Speed" campaign, created by Omnicom Group's BBDO here, includes TV, online and print executions. The creative shows AOL subscribers racing athletes in swimming, cycling, downhill skiing and other sports.

The effort simply inserts the phrase "high speed" into AOL's existing tagline: "Want a better high-speed Internet? You belong at AOL."

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed. AOL said it would include national and cable TV, backed up with online ads, and some print and radio. BBDO is creating the TV, print and radio ads; Atmosphere BBDO crafted Web advertising. Interpublic Group's Initiative is handling media planning and buying.

AOL spent $235 million in domestic measured media in 2004 and more than $250 million in the first 11 months of 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Joe Redling, AOL's chief marketing officer and president of its access business, said the campaign is directed at "broadband intenders," both AOL members and other dial-up subscribers. AOL plans to heavily promote the service on its service.

Web advertising broke today, and TV spots will launch on Monday, according to AOL.

The national push, he said, is part of a transition to join the brand messages of AOL's two operations: the access business, which is still dominated by dial-up users, and its video-heavy portal, which is made for broadband users.

AOL said it has struck partnerships with BellSouth, Verizon and Time Warner Cable, and DSL providers to offer AOL high-speed access nationwide for as low as $25.90. The deal is meant to move AOL's 20.1 million users, the majority on dial-up connections, over to broadband.

"This is the last leg of the stool for us," Redling said. "We are transitioning the AOL brand to a broadband brand."

For the first six months of the year, AOL will run messages that introduce it as a broadband provider, Redling said, before moving to more feature-specific creative emphasizing the differentiated service subscribers get with AOL, including security and content.

While security has been a major push in AOL's "Better Internet" campaign, it will be buttressed by more ads that emphasize AOL content, such as AOL Music and video, Redling said.