PeoplePC Drops OgilvyOne for NetWork Direct

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PeoplePC Inc., which leases computers with Internet access to consumers and employees of corporations, has yanked its direct mail business from OgilvyOne Worldwide, handing the $5 million account for customer acquisition to NetworkDirect, Willow Grove, PA.

OgilvyOne's loss comes five months after it won the Direct Marketing Association's Diamond Echo award for a TV campaign that helped debut a new Internet services and buying club for PeoplePC. OgilvyOne, New York, retains the multimillion-dollar TV account.

"With PeoplePC looking for new, better ways to increase the efficiency of its marketing campaigns across the board, we thought it was time to explore some other options and see if we can get even better performance," said Mark Barden, vice president of marketing at PeoplePC, San Francisco.

"It's not that the OgilvyOne work was poor," Barden said. "It was strong, but we felt that we could do even better."

NetworkDirect was one of three agencies considered for the direct mail assignment. Barden would not disclose the other two agencies that were in the running. OgilvyOne was not part of the review.

Barden said NetworkDirect was selected because of its experience in direct mail. The 4-year-old agency has worked on consumer direct mail acquisition efforts for clients such as Franklin Mint, Merck-Medco, MemberWorks, MCI, MBNA and Lenox. Billings last year were $4 million.

Starting in mid-April, NetworkDirect will commence its first direct mail drop to credit-worthy households that are looking to upgrade or buy their second or third computers.

"So it's important that we have a very aggressive marketing campaign that maximizes response at the same time as it continues to play out our brand values in a much softer, user-friendly kind of way than you might see in a traditional PC direct mail campaign," Barden said.

The campaign will come on the heels of a swathe of new services launched by PeoplePC.

One new service, PeopleShop, is a members-only online computer products store that offers gadgets and items such as scanners, printers, Webcams and gaming devices.

Another service, PeoplePages, will soon debut as an online community for PeoplePC members to communicate with each other.

Finally, the PeoplePal service is an online companion for members as they shop on the Internet. Functioning like a wallet, PeoplePal will appear on the screen, alerting shoppers at PeoplePC merchants' sites about sales and promotions.

Steve Emory, president of NetworkDirect, said the national direct mail effort will piggyback on the recognition garnered last year from extensive TV advertising, market research and analysis of more than 500,000 members of the PeoplePC program.

"Whereas all previous advertising was top-line oriented, geared toward building the brand name and a base of customers, NetworkDirect's charter is bottom-line performance," Emory said.

"The campaign will be tracked and measured in detail by list source, creative execution and offer to be evaluated against predetermined customer acquisition cost and ROI goals," he said.

In a departure from last year's creative, which depended heavily on a spokesman, the new direct effort will have a newly articulated unique selling proposition.

"The USP will continue to establish PeoplePC's unique membership as one of the best values in the market for consumers who are not techies and that are looking to buy and install PC and software bundles with unlimited access to the Internet at about the same price for Internet access only," Emory said.

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