CAMPAIGN DIRECT: SHOPPING WITH CAMPAIGN - Dotcoms. Instead of pitting rival companies against one another, this month, Campaign reporter, Eleanor Trickett, checks out what the dotcoms have to offer

The trouble with the dotcoms is that they’re bunging so much money and energy into brand-building ads and cute logos that, half of the time, you’re not sure what it is that is actually being advertised. Many of them are established brands, for example, shopsmart.com and amazon.co.uk, but many aren’t. How can they achieve standout if the consumer is in the dark about what they offer?

The trouble with the dotcoms is that they’re bunging so much money

and energy into brand-building ads and cute logos that, half of the

time, you’re not sure what it is that is actually being advertised. Many

of them are established brands, for example, shopsmart.com and

amazon.co.uk, but many aren’t. How can they achieve standout if the

consumer is in the dark about what they offer?



Not only is it confusing for the consumer, it has also started to dilute

the new, non-virtual brands, such as KLM’s budget airline, Buzz, and the

green energy company, Unit(e). Poor things: legitimate new products, yet

how many non-line (as opposed to online) people have ignored them,

thinking they are virtual?



Time to check them out, then. Four dotcom ads have flickered past my

eyeballs recently - all in media which I chose to consume and,

therefore, which are (very loosely) aimed at me - but none of whose

offers, as a consumer, I have the first clue about. I uncork the wine

and sit down with my housemate, Susanna.



First, Ebop. ’If you don’t get it, you’re too old.’ That’s the only

’information’ on the ad and, instantly, we are insulted rather than

curious. It appears to be some kind of magazine. We read a couple of

articles, vote in a poll and play Frogger for a while, but have to stop

because the music is making Susanna gnash her teeth. This is a very good

site really, but how many people have been deterred by the threatening

ads? We’re too old for them but just right for the site. Go figure.



Dobedo.com is next. Oh, it’s a chat room, apparently designed for young

teens, even though when it asks for your details, the default option to

click is ’I am a man’. Hmmm.



Arrggh! Too many instructions. We are racily informed that we may flirt

with whoever we wish. To be frank, however, we would both much rather

flirt with the waiters in Little Italy over a flaming Sambuca or

six.



OK, it’s cute and we spend 45 minutes creating a personality. But no-one

wants to talk to us. Humph. We’re obviously too old for this lark.



Jungle.com is third and, apparently, it’s the ’best place to buy

online’.



It appears to sell music and computer stuff. On closer examination,

’today’s offer’s’ (sic) include videos at high street prices. Wow.



Finally, we try charlottestreet.com. We think it’s a search engine, but

the ads are all about cellulite. Is it trying to tell us something or

merely offering girl-flavoured information?



Actually, it’s a beautiful site, full of news and features. We like it a

lot. And it’s pretty consistent with the advertising, which incidentally

is the least rubbish of the lot. Hurrah! The clear winner.



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