HMV, Corby to offer free Net access

There's nothing like the sound of the word "free" to make people sit up and take notice....

There’s nothing like the sound of the word "free" to make people sit up and take notice.

And that’s just what marketers like HMV Canada and Corby Distilleries are counting on, as they dangle complimentary branded Internet access in front of Canadian consumers.

In separate initiatives, both companies are offering Web-head wannabes free Internet access and e-mail in return for the right to have their custom-branded home page appear as the user’s default home page.

HMV.com, in partnership with Calgary-based free Internet service provider Cybersurf Corp., plans to begin distributing HMV/3Web-branded Internet installation CDs this week at its retail outlets in Toronto and Vancouver, says Sara Ross, the music retailer’s Internet marketing manager. While the CD will sport a price tag of $9.95 plus tax, customers who pay up will receive a $10-off coupon for HMV.com, she says.

Cybersurf’s 3Web service allows HMV to highlight its new releases and special promotions on the user’s main access page. It also provides users a permanent branded link to HMV.com – ensuring the opportunity to make a purchase remains just a click away.

Ross says she expects the co-branded HMV/3Web site will attract consumers who may have been reluctant to get onto the Web, those who are unhappy with their current ISP, and those who simply want free Web access.

While Ross says HMV.com won’t be privy to consumer information gathered by 3Web, users will be asked whether they want to sign up for HMV’s newsletter – thereby opening an avenue for one-to-one communication.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Corby Distilleries, in partnership with Funcow.com, rolled out its own private-label Internet access offering last week. Just as with HMV, Corby’s banner will be present at all times and will act as a hot link to the company’s Web site. The service will be promoted on Canadian college and university campuses via free co-branded installation CDs, says John McDonald, Funcow’s manager of marketing and communications.

Free advertising-supported ISPs are widespread in the U.S. – the largest, NetZero, is second only to America OnLine in terms of the number of subscribers – and they are now gaining ground in Canada.

While Canadian consumers have not had access to co-branded services before now, private label offerings in the U.S. have amassed a lot of attention. Recently, Kmart partnered with Yahoo! and a backbone provider to offer Kmart shoppers the opportunity to connect for free – a development that Michael Szego, a consultant with J.C. Williams Group labels "important."

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.
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The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.