Ad Campaign Targets Tots, Parents

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Children's Web portal ALFY.com launched a major online and offline marketing campaign last week to promote its new subscriber-based online educational program, Cleverisland.com.


The campaign targets parents age 25 to 38 through a mix of banner advertisements, e-mail messages, 10 million free-standing inserts, 20 million subscription-based magazine bind-ins and 200,000 traditional direct mail pieces. The company will evaluate the campaign at the end of the year.


"We are launching the Cleverisland campaign just in time for the back-to-school season," said Jim Keenan, chief marketing officer at ALFY.com, New York.


Cleverisland.com, which can be accessed independently at www.cleverisland.com or through www.alfy.com, is a password-protected animated educational and entertainment program for young children. The cost is $24.95 for a six-month membership and $39.95 for a 12-month membership. Both memberships permit access for three children per household. The content, which is updated once a month, includes art programs and mathematical, reading and adventure games.


"The parental marketplace is willing to pay for educational products. Our Web-based program will eliminate the need to constantly update with new CD-ROMs or worry about kids losing or destroying CD-ROMs," Keenan said.


Parents can cancel after the one-month trial without losing any money, Keenan said, unlike when they purchase CD-ROM games.


"American parents spend [more than] $1 billion on CD-ROM programs each year," he said. "When they aren't happy with them, it's just another $15 down the toilet."


ALFY.com's staff developed three banner ads to promote Cleverisland.com. One features the tag line, "Unlock your child's potential," and has two animated padlocks opening and closing. Another ad features the same tag line with an animated treasure chest filled with numbers and letters. The third ad features a ruler and the letters "ABC," followed by the tag line, "Click Here To Give Your Child A Head Start."


The ads direct parents to a microsite that includes information about the program, frequently asked questions, a registration form and a free trial form. "The banner is a teaser tugging at the heartstrings of parents," Keenan said.


The banner is running on ALFY.com and on www.thenetsbest.com, an online direct marketing portal, Keenan said. The company is selecting other sites for the full-scale campaign next month.


ALFY.com last week included 10 million free-standing inserts in various large-circulation newspapers, including Newsday, The Baltimore Sun, The Seattle Times and The Boston Herald.


"We focused on areas that have a higher index of Internet connectivity and a large population of young parents," said Jim Lynch, marketing services consultant at Valassis Communications, the firm managing the campaign.


The company will drop bind-in mailings in primarily subscription-based, parent-oriented magazines such as Parents magazine and FamilyFun Magazine. ALFY will send out the 200,000 stand-alone direct mail pieces during the remainder of the year. If the initial direct mail campaign proves successful, the company plans to send additional direct mail pieces next year.


ALFY.com officially launched late last summer as a children's animated entertainment site. The ALFY.com site receives an average of 400,000 visitors a month.
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