Resonate to clarify AOL UK positioning

AOL UK has brought in Resonate for a wide-ranging brief to clarify the portal’s brand positioning in the wake of its change of ownership and ­restructure.

Coldplay: online gig for AOL
Coldplay: online gig for AOL

The business, won after a four-way pitch, is thought to be worth about £200,000 a year to the agency.

The former internet ser­vice provider (ISP) will use the agency to handle media relations for AOL’s sponsorship of The O2, as well as a number of high-profile launches from the brand before the end of the year.

‘The sale of the ISP side of our business at the end of last year has left us with a need to communicate what AOL now stands for,’ said AOL marketing director Barry Flanigan.

Carphone Warehouse ­acquired AOL UK’s subscription internet access business last autumn, when AOL Europe sold its French and German internet access business to native telecoms operators. In the late 1990s AOL was an internet success story, with soaring user numbers and heavy traffic on its websites. It subsequently became embroiled in billing and account cancelling disputes which tarnished its reputation.

Resonate associate director Nicola Gibb heads the account, reporting to Flanigan and communications ­executive Jennifer Higgs.

AOL has also been in talks with agencies concerning a pan-European corporate brief (PRWeek, 4 May). Historically, it has worked with several agencies, including Mantra PR, Shine Communications, Freud Communications and Blue Rubicon.

Earlier this year AOL UK director of comms Jonathan Lambeth left the firm after four and a half years. His post was made redundant ­after Carphone Warehouse’s acquisition. AOL UK chief marketing officer Tobin Ireland also took redundancy.

AOL is upgrading and relaunching a range of features and sites on its network. It recently unveiled a revamped video portal, with a new home page, an upgraded search function and customisable ‘skins’ in which the videos can be viewed. It has in the past arranged online ­music concerts for artists including Coldplay.

This week, the firm’s Wikipedia entry was defaced with the entry ‘AOL is based in the sixth circle of hell’, suggesting it still has reputational issues in some quarters.

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