NetZero Hits the Daytona 500 Track and Screen

LOS ANGELES United Online will compete against AOL during the Daytona 500 this Sunday, both on and off the track. An ad for United’s NetZero HiSpeed dial-up service will break during the NBC telecast of the Nascar race as the sponsored cars go at it between commercials.

In “Logos,” a 30-second spot by indie Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, Mo., the NetZero car’s driver, Ward Burton, wakes up in a bedroom plastered with his sponsor’s red-and-black speedometer logo. As he goes through his morning routine, a voiceover says, “For Nascar driver Ward Burton, one of the benefits of driving the NetZero high-speed car is that he gets his very own high-speed Internet service. With NetZero HiSpeed he can surf the Web up to five times faster. Yes, NetZero HiSpeed gives Ward all the speed he can handle. And he’s not afraid of speed.”

Burton responds, “It’s this logo thing that’s startin’ to scare me.” As he sits at his computer, he notices that his dog has been painted in the HiSpeed colors. “I’ve got to have a talk with those boys,” he concludes.

“That was done entirely with a computer,” said Brian Woods, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, United Online, Westlake Village, Calif. “No dog was actually painted.”

Woods said that since United began advertising its low-cost Internet service nine months ago, 22 percent of subscribers, 638,000, have signed on to HiSpeed, representing both new customers and subscriber upgrades. He said the result is so encouraging that 80 percent of the marketing budget will be directed toward HiSpeed. “We found a real hot button,” he said. “People are interested in surfing faster, but not at 50 bucks a month.”