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., 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, 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 – 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 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, 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."

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.