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Friends Reunited appeals to animal lovers in TV ad push

LONDON - ITV-owned reunion website Friends Reunited is launching a TV ad campaign for the first time, created by Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw.

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The campaign consists of a 50-second TV ad airing from early January across national TV channels.

Adspend for the campaign is believed to be worth £7m in the first quarter of 2007, with further investment planned across the year.

Friends Reunited currently has 19m members subscribed to its service and is launching the ad campaign to boost website registrations in 2007. Plans are also in development for possible further advertising later this spring to advertise the three other Reunited sites -- Dating, Jobs and Genes -- in order to stimulate their growth this year.

The premise of the campaign contrasts the challenges of communication and life in the animal kingdom with the way humans can easily find old friends online by visiting the website.

The campaign opens by showing footage of whales "talking" as they trek beneath the waves. The voiceover announces "But you are not a whale" and asks "Ever wondered what your old friends are up to?" followed by "You'll never know unless you go". Music is by film composer John Barry, best known for his James Bond scores, and performed by new US-based band Mighty Six Ninety.

Marc Nohr, managing partner at Kitcatt Nohr, said: "These serene ads surprise and engage people because they don't shout or even look like ads at first. In research, we found viewers had their interest piqued by the amazing animal footage and then laughed out loud as they realised they weren't watching a trailer for a nature programme but an ad for Friends Reunited."

The TV ad will be supported online through advertising and search features. Kittcat Nohr was appointed to to the account in September 2003.

Michael Murphy, Friends Reunited chief executive, said: "Friends Reunited is a brand that appeals across all ages and demographics. While we have a powerful presence online, we wanted to combine this with a more universal brand profile through national TV advertising to broaden our audience."

ITV bought Friends Reunited in December 2005 for £120m, with an additional £55m if performance targets are hit by 2009. At the time, the deal gave the combined sites of ITV.com and Friendsreunited.com the eighth largest online presence in terms of unique users behind Google, Yahoo!, eBay and the BBC.

The site was started in 2000 by husband and wife team Steve and Julie Pankhurst.

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