Flooz Ads Put Whoopi in Corner

$30 Mil. Campaign for Web Co. Includes Spot Too Hot for Nets
NEW YORK–Web-currency site Flooz, on the heels of securing $27 million in a second round of funding, is launching a new series of commercials starring Whoopi Goldberg.
Created by Hanft Byrne Raboy & Partners, the new effort is called, “Whoopi’s advice corner” and features the actress/comedian advising e-mail correspondents.
The client is putting $30 million behind the campaign.
Previous Flooz ads showed Goldberg confronting people in stores, trying to explain the concept of Flooz as an online currency. “It’s like money” has been added as a tagline to “make the message clearer,” said Jack Feuer, Flooz vp of marketing.
The first spot, which broke last week, will air on cable TV because it was deemed too risquƒ for network TV, according to Feuer.
In it, Whoopi reads an e-mail on an iMac from someone whose girlfriend had an allergic reaction to edible panties he gave her. She tells him, “Try nibbling instead of chomping” on the panties. She suggests giving Flooz instead: “It’s like money.”
“We are letting Whoopi be Whoopi,” said Doug Raboy, managing partner, creative director, adding the shop provides the framework for her to improvise. “We write the e-mail and she riffs off them.”
“They let me go along with my stream of consciousness,” Goldberg said of the shop. “And then they give me some ground rules. Sometimes we do some [routines] that are funny, but they can’t use them. We’re right on the edge with [this] one. I don’t think it’s in too bad taste. I look at some of the Calvin Klein Obsession commercials and I think [ours is] pretty tame.”
Four additional 30-second spots have already been produced.
“Lovelorn columns seem to do pretty well in the newspapers, so we figured an advice column would be fun,” said Goldberg.
Last week, Flooz got $27 million from NBC, NextCard and various venture-capitalist groups.
“It’s become much more than a typical celebrity endorsement,” said Robert Levitan, Flooz president and co-founder. “She is part of the marketing team.” K