December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

With naked men, flying gerbils and more, TV ads generate buzz---and business

(Page 2 of 2)

While some online advertisers will spend most of their budget on the Super Bowl, most marketing executives with a consumer-goods background will tell you that it takes a multimillion-dollar commitment on a quarterly schedule to create a lasting impression among consumers. “We have a well-balanced media package,” says Beyond.com’s Sroub, whose resume includes a marketing stint at Procter & Gamble.

Beyond.com’s ads target the heavier software buyers, who tend to skew more male than female. “I look at it as a team approach,” says Sroub, whose internal marketing group includes veterans of such packaged-goods companies as Quaker Oats, Kraft and Clorox. “I think the agency [San Francisco-based Leagas Delany] tends to come up with the breakthrough ideas, while the brand side makes sure that the message gets through.” Beyond.com’s “Home Office” campaign clicked with critics as well as consumers, earning plaudits from Adweek magazine.

But when it comes to winning accolades, Cyberian Outpost Inc. takes the prize. The Kent, Conn.-based computer products retailer has won some of the ad industry’s highest honors for its irreverent spots that feature gerbils being shot out of cannons and wolves attacking a high school marching band.

Cyberian Outpost, which went public last July, began its brand-building campaign last fall with an advertising mix of cable channels, including CNBC, MSNBC, CNN and the Sci-Fi Channel, as well as spot buys in the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.

Television fits into Cyberian Outpost’s multi-tiered strategy of advertising on high-traffic online sites, niche sites, and portals. “We think that advertising both online and offline is important,” says spokesman Michael Tesoro. “The demographics of the Internet community are becoming more and more similar to a customer at a bricks-and-mortar store. TV, print and radio are effective mediums to build our brand awareness and drive qualified traffic to our site.”

All without harming a single gerbil.

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