If you are still unaware that grey is the new brown, then Virgin’s

stylish clothing site is for you. The site revolves around an assistant,

who creates outfits for the user based on lifestyle statements submitted

- a truly handy application for the sartorially challenged. It also

allows users to send these outfits to their friends - perfect for

subtle, or not so subtle, hints.

However, like many other retailers in this sector, Virgin still hasn’t

overcome the problem of presenting its clothes online. They look dull

and untextured and colours are hard to distinguish - all due to the

limitation of graphics maximised for download times. This is a shame as

virtual quality cannot act as justification for the high prices of the

clothes themselves.

Furthermore, there is no sales operation on the site; when Virgin is

competing with Gap and Diesel, who do sell online, even a partnership

with Freemans, one of its stockists, would add value and utility to its


CLIENT: Virgin Clothing

BRIEF: Be part of the brand launch, develop a playful brand experience

online and create a platform for possible future e-commerce




When Freeserve launched a few weeks ago, the Internet industry was

thrown into turmoil. The core proposition of free, unlimited internet

access for a mass audience, distributed in a high-street retailer,

combined with a dedicated site for users provided a compelling

proposition for the mass-market home PC user.

The Freeserve site is a let-down, however. While it is simple and

attractive, the content is severely lacking - commodity news from PA

supplemented by some site reviews - and utility provided by a choice of

Lycos and Scoot. To appeal to mass-market users, you need to handhold

and explain. The site doesn’t do this; it certainly isn’t a true


Let’s see in six months if Freeserve has created a stronger proposition


CLIENT: Freeserve

BRIEF: Create a portal site which is easy to navigate and makes it easy

to do searches

CREATED BY: Rob Wilmot and Ajaz Ahmed at Freeserve



If anyone follows the excellent UK Net Marketing e-mail list (subscribe

at, you will be aware of the massive discussion

over It is a truly beautifully designed site and its content

does explain this new financial service offering in detail. What irks

me, though, is that the site requires some registration before entering,

and the only visible value the user gets for this is a personalised

welcome message. So as Egg compiles a user database from this which

provides a massive appeal for the marketers, it should be recognised

that the transaction between users and companies has to provide value

for both parties if long-term value is to be achieved.

To its credit, the Egg site is the only one reviewed here that launched

with a banner campaign. The distinctive (eggshell?) green banners were

spotted on Full marks to the Egg team for understanding that

a site when launched needs visitors and therefore needs online


CLIENT: Prudential

BRIEF: Reflect the idea of individualisation which runs throughout the

campaign on the net

CREATED BY: HHCL and NoHo Digital



Oh dear. I thought that we had moved on from sites like this. In fact, I

had to check that this site hadn’t been online for three years and never

updated rather than newly launched before this review.

Although the design of the site is questionable, and the content poor,

my main criticism is that the strategy behind the site is shot to


With millions of commercial websites now in operation, I question why

users would ever want to visit a soup site. If Baxters’ true ambition is

to conduct e-commerce with a range of hampers online, then it would be

much better off creating online promotions within high traffic sites; in

this case, I would imagine the ex-pat market would be highly


So a plea to Baxters and all other fmcg brands - don’t wait for

consumers to come to you online - go to them.

CLIENT: Baxters

BRIEF: To increase the visibility of the visitors’ centre and add an

online element to the existing mail order hamper business

CREATED BY: Venus International



Dollond and Aitchison was first, providing users with PersonalEyes, a

feature that allows you to try different spectacles on a scanned image

of your face. Then came Vision Express with funky Shockwave-facilitated

online sales of sunglasses.

So what does Specsavers offer? Well, nothing in comparison to its two

competitors online. Information on eye care and a shop locator do not a

competitive offering make. If you launch a site months, if not years,

behind your competitors then you have to ensure that your offering has

parity, or at least some added value to distinguish it in the eyes of

the user.

Even the utility offered is poor -- entering my postcode into the shop

locator, ten matches appear, including matches of shops in Epsom, when

my nearest SpecSavers is five minutes down the road in Brixton. Overall,

little utility, no style and substance; competitors must be rubbing

their eyes in amazement.

CLIENT: Specsavers opticians

Brief: Provide a comprehensive reference point for anyone who wears

spectacles or contact lenses

CREATED BY: Fahrenheit 451


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