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Marketers Review Content of Messages

Marketers have amended a number of online campaigns to eliminate anything that might be considered inappropriate in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Coca-Cola, Atlanta, pulled its “Life Tastes Good” slogan from television commercials in the United States but kept the slogan on TV spots streamed on its Web site and on television broadcasts in other countries.

“That line, for the time being, is being de-emphasized and removed from U.S. advertising,” said Robert Baskin, a Coca-Cola spokesman. “We don't think it's appropriate, out of respect for victims, their families and rescuers.”

Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, changed the name and focus of a concert series it is sponsoring. Explosion Musical, a six-city concert tour targeting Hispanic teens, was quickly switched to America Unida. The focus of the concerts was switched to a fundraiser for American Red Cross relief efforts for families of the Sept. 11 victims. The Web site that had been used to promote the event, Explosionmusical.com, contains a message that the site is for sale.

Most marketers, whether targeting business or consumer clients, are doing similar reviews of current and planned campaigns.

“We're watching for symbols of aggressive action and looking at all metaphors,” said Dan Flack, interactive marketing program director for IBM. “All e-mails are not to be sent out without review at the management level.”

IBM cautiously resumed its business-to-business e-mail marketing Sept. 24, avoiding marketing to financial institutions and airlines.

“We have pulled back from affected companies in the New York area,” Flack said. While continuing its e-mail and Web marketing efforts for the September 11th Fund, IBM is gradually increasing e-mail marketing of its products.

Meanwhile, Pepsi stayed on schedule with its in-store campaign for the Oct. 1 launch of Pepsistuff.com. The under-the-cap promotion urges consumers to enter codes printed under the caps, worth varying points, at the site. Consumers can redeem points for merchandise, including apparel, online games and downloadable files.

General Motors launched its “Keep America Rolling” incentive program Sept. 20, which included banners on several Web sites as well as full-page print ads. The program offers interest-free financing on all GM models.

“We know this is a difficult time to talk about an incentive program, but GM had a responsibility to help stimulate the economy by encouraging Americans to purchase vehicles, to support our dealers and suppliers, and to keep our plants operating and our employees working,” said Ron Zarrella, president of North American operations at GM.

Funding for the Keep America Rolling online creative, which is still under development by McCann Worldwide Group, New York, will come from online ad dollars that would have been used for call-to-action programs.

“We're adding up the dollars that were planned to be spent between now and the end of October on retail Internet programs, and converting those buys to banners [for Keep America Rolling],” said Peg Holmes, director, marketing and regional communications for General Motors.

Dollars for online campaigns to launch new vehicles will not be touched, Holmes said.

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