AstraZeneca Wants to Paint the Sky Purple at AccuWeather

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Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca expanded its advertising relationship with AccuWeather.com through a new sponsorship of the site's WeatherHost animated forecaster.


The sponsorship of what AccuWeather calls the world's first weathercaster is for Nexium, a prescription medication for treating acid reflux disease. Avenue A/NYC, AstraZeneca's interactive agency, created the ad, which simulates live weather forecasts on television news shows.


Users visit the home page at www.accuweather.com and click on the link on the right side. They are taken to a page where the animated character -- a middle-aged man in a suit -- announces, "Today's weather broadcast is brought to you by AstraZeneca, makers of Nexium, the Purple Pill."


The animated character then delivers a summary of the national weather forecast. The media player is branded with Nexium ads at the top and bottom of the frame. A written forecast accompanies the ads, both of which can be clicked to reach the site at www.purplepill.com. The WeatherHost also directs visitors to the Purple Pill site at the end of his forecast.


The primary color for the WeatherHost is purple to complement Nexium's Purple Pill branding. The promotion hopes to extract maximum mileage from the more than 100 million monthly page views and 8 million-plus unique users AccuWeather.com attracts.


"We personalized it a bit for the advertiser without taking away from the user experience," said Jim Candor, senior vice president of new media at AccuWeather.com, State College, PA.


AccuWeather.com will negotiate sponsorship rates with advertisers keen on using the WeatherHost.


The forecast is recorded twice a day specifically for AccuWeather.com. Visitors can highlight an area of the U.S. map, click on the region they are interested in and zero in on the city for the local forecast. There are forecasts for 101 U.S. cities.


Technology from Oddcast powers the experience. The Oddcast VHost technology is used in conversational character products for Web pages, banner ads, Flash movies and e-mails.


Visitors can access the WeatherHost not only from two links on the AccuWeather home page, but also via the local forecast page.


Nielsen//NetRatings has ranked AccuWeather rival Weather Channel's weather.com as the 10th-largest site on the Internet -- the highest in its nine-year existence. Last month, more than 27 million people visited the Atlanta-based site at www.weather.com.


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