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Hoovers Takes Its Serious Data Humorously

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GSD&M Provides Comic Relief in $10 Mil. Print, TV Campaign
DALLAS--You don't want to feel stupid, do you?
Hoovers Inc. doesn't want you to either, which is why the publisher of the Hoovers Online financial information service has launched a $10 million advertising campaign showing the tragic consequences of appearing uninformed.
Three print ads produced by GSD&M of Austin, Texas, depict businessmen whose heads have been replaced with cartoon monkeys, clowns and terrified deer, victims of their own sad lack of business information. The themeline: "When you're not informed, it shows."
The ads will appear in publications including Fast Company, Fortune, Business 2.0, Wired, Business Week, The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.
A 15-second television spot broke Sept. 15 on CBS, CNN, CNBC, ESPN and MSNBC. On-screen copy states: "It is said that the day you stop learning is the day you die. This is for those who aren't ready to be dead just yet."
Both television and print ads end with the tagline, "Know thy stuff."
It is the first national brand-building campaign for the Austin company, which launched its Web site in 1995.
Client vice president of marketing William Cargill said the timing of the ads follows Hoovers' initial public offering in July, which gave the company its first major advertising budget.
"The other reason is that we've done a lot of online branding through co-branding and strategic partnerships, so the need to take it to the next level [was] really there, especially as the Internet is becoming a mass medium," Cargill explained.
The humor of the ads fits Hoovers style, he added. "A lot of our [company] profiles have humor in them . . . it hasn't been cut and pasted out of an SEC document. We take the information seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously," Cargill said.