Weiss Takes Risks for Web Site

Weiss Stagliano Partners’ first work for new client Talkway.com uses vivid images–including one of a nude infant–to convince Web surfers to access newsgroups via its site.
The challenge was to capture the feeling of trading thoughts on Usenet message boards in a provocative way, said agency president Adam Stagliano.
In one ad, a naked baby is shown above a mock discussion about circumcision. Another uses the image of a hairy upper lip alongside a conversation on electrolysis. Each carries the tagline, “Exchange ideas on practically anything.”
“We wanted to make sure we were showing the breadth of this thing,” said creative director Marty Weiss.
The campaign, including print, outdoor, banner ads and a redesign of Talkway’s Web site, breaks next month. The client would not discuss spending; sources pegged it at $5-10 million.
Weiss Stagliano won Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Talkway, whose Web site allows free Usenet access and provides links to related e-commerce sites, after a review that included New York shops CKS and The Abelson Co.
The ads have already generated some heat–several outdoor providers refused to run the naked baby until a Band-Aid was superimposed on the photo; others also rejected the revision. But the client isn’t flinching.
“We had to break the mold,” said Carlos Tribino, Talkway’s vice president, marketing. “The Internet is a risky environment.”