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Lycos Serves Up Kournikova for Latest Push

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Terra Lycos has signed tennis star Anna Kournikova to a multi-year endorsement contract that includes advertising and contests tied to various sites in the Lycos network.

TV spots, via lead agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Bos-ton, are slated to break during the upcoming NCAA men's basketball Final Four championship on CBS.

The first of two 30-second spots features Kournikova knocking on the door of someone's house. Two men answer and immediately are fixated on a set of car keys to a free BMW that Kournikova is dangling.

The two hop into the car and take a ride. Seconds later, they realize they just left the fetching Kournikova at their doorstep. Kournikova is then shown sitting on the doorstep petting Lycos' black Labrador retriever mascot.

The campaign retains the tag introduced in October's $20 million effort: "Whatever you're into, dig into it deeper on Lycos." No celebrities were featured in the initial series of ads.

The budget for the current effort was not disclosed.

A second spot, set to break in a few weeks, will show Kournikova's penchant for fantasy sports games. Print will flag a network-wide promotion with more than $1 million in cash and prizes, including the BMW. The promo is intended to drive traffic to sites within the network, such as Lycos Shop, Lycos Sports and Lycos Autos.

Jim Corboy, senior vice president of marketing for the Waltham, Mass., search engine company, said Kournikova's status as the most-searched athlete prompted the deal. "For guys, obviously, she's real easy on the eyes, but she's popular with women, too."

He added that, with rival Yahoo!'s troubles in the news, Lycos sees now as a good time to beat the drum for the network.

"At a time when the industry is upside down, we're moving full speed ahead," he said.