Ovadafut Tries to Gain a Toehold Without Ad Push

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Start-up Ovadafut, a men's sock manufacturer, has had some early victories as it seeks to gain exposure through online partnerships rather than a full-scale advertising campaign.

"For a company that's not a Ralph Lauren or any other of these big companies that can afford consistent media purchases, their advertising has to be redundant," said Vivek Nagrani, designer and marketing manager at Ovadafut. "Small- to medium-sized companies don't have the money to buy that type of presence and set themselves in the consumer's mind."

Ovadafut, New York, decided to bypass media buying when it debuted four months ago, instead combing the Internet for partnerships and key placements.

The company has been placed on About.com's men's fashion section and was selected as a Yahoo Pick of the Day in May. The placements came after Ovadafut's marketing firm, New York-based Situation Marketing, contacted editors at both sites via e-mail.

Since the placements, Ovadafut has collected nearly 500 e-mail addresses and increased its Web traffic to about 1,000 unique visitors per week.

"When you get placed on Yahoo's Pick of the Day or About.com, you achieve a much greater level of credibility because you're not purchasing something," Nagrani said. "It means someone has selected you, and you forgo a lot of the redundancy needed in advertising by just one powerful punch."

The exposure also helped the company land two partnerships. One of the deals calls for Ovadafut to manufacture socks for Stuart Abo, Wantagh, NY, a manufacturer of accessories for tuxedo rentals.

Ovadafut also has sent proposals to offer online promotions and content space in exchange for Web traffic and access to e-mail lists. Though Ovadafut has not closed any deals, the company has received responses from five companies, said Damian Bazadona, president of Situation Marketing, New York.

In the fall Ovadafut plans to debut an e-mail newsletter that will be informational but also will promote affiliate retailers and partners.

"The media-buying market is in the toilet, so now is the time when people are looking for value-added partnerships that can help drive traffic to their sites," Bazadona said.


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