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Netscape Online and Woolies target lads

Joining forces with Woolies and lads' mags, Netscape Online goes after Freeserve and other free-ISP rivals.
Written by Will Knight, Contributor and  Jane Wakefield, Contributor

At the launch of its free ISP Tuesday, AOL announced that Netscape Online is joining with high-street retailer Woolworths to distribute the CDs for the service.

The long awaited Netscape Online is set to go head to head with Freeserve and went live at midday today.

Aimed at young, single males, AOL has partnered with Guardian Unlimited, men's magazine Maxim and sport's content provider Sports Line to provide content to appeal to the Loaded generation. ZDNet UK News, FT.com and EMAP online, the Met Office and music mag Metro will also be providing content.

The distribution deal with Woolworths, which echoes the high-street push of Freeserve CDs through Dixons stores, will see Netscape Online software distributed free in 800 Woolworth stores nationwide. While eyebrows have been raised at the connection between young men and Woolworths, Jupiter analyst Nick Jones sees method in the madness. "Young men do not go into Woolworths as a rule but might go in to get a cheap record or a battery. What is interesting is the deal with parent company Kingfisher," he said. Kingfisher owns Comet stores and MVC (Music and Video Club) and, according to Jones, "has lots of plans for e-commerce". He believes distribution deals with Comet and MVC are in the pipeline.

Kingfisher,which also owns DIY store B&Q and Superdrug, has struck a deal to become exclusive retailer for electrical and DIY goods on the shopping channels of AOL and Netscape Online. The similarities between the AOL/Kingfisher partnership and that of Freeserve and Dixons will not be lost on commentators.

In an aggressive marketing campaign Netscape Online will use the slogan 'Beware part-time Internet providers -- the N is nigh' featuring on TV and in the national press. Positioning itself as 'the FREE Internet service, from THE Internet company', the launch of Netscape Online marks AOL's debut in the UK value market.

Netscape Online: Aimed at the lads, here's what you get...

  • Free online service including email
  • Distribution of free CDs through network of 800 Woolworths stores
  • Netscape Online Instant Messenger
  • Community-based chat
  • Hip content provided by Crunch -- MP3 site, QXL -- online auction site and Top Jobs.
  • 20 community areas, from fashion to technology
  • 40 chat rooms including Football is life, IndieUnderground and Womens Space
  • Unlimited email addresses
  • 20MB of Web space and site building tools
  • Technical support -- premium rates apply at 50p per minute
  • Are you a lad? Will you use Netscape Online? Tell the Mailroom

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