America Online Argentina: Launch of the AOL service in Argentina


AOL is the leading Internet services company in the world. He arrived in Argentina on August 8, 2000, after disembarking in Brazil and Mexico. It was incorporated as AOL Argentina SRL, a subsidiary of America Online Latin America, Inc. [NASDAQ: AOLA] that was formed to launch and operate the America Online service in Argentina. America Online Latin America was formed as a joint venture (co-investment company) in December 1998 by the group of majority shareholders of America Online, currently a new subsidiary of AOL Time Warner and Grupo Cisneros. America Online is the leading company in the world in interactive services and brand content, with more than 29 million users, and the Cisneros Group is one of the main media groups in Latin America.

– Achieve a high impact of the launch of AOL Argentina, in order to position AOL in the local market, as the largest Internet provider in the world.
– Demonstrate through all communications the differential factors of AOL Argentina: ease of use, complete offer in content, state-of-the-art technology and the fastest access to the Internet.
– Communicate to AOL from all possible facets (economic, business, technological, entertainment, sports, general interest, etc.)

Main difficulties to face
* AOL is launched in Argentina later than its national and international competitors.
* Its main competitors in the country are owned by important media groups (Clarín / Clarín Digital, Perfil / UOL) or they are part of important telephone groups (Telecom / Arnet and Telefónica / Terra).
* The diffusion of technical and business difficulties in the operation of AOL in Brazil could cloud the launch.
* Experiences of launches in other countries showed that a press campaign could be produced against the launch, through spam (chain of anonymous e-mails) that distorted the service, adverse press, media with commercial interests in competing ISPs and others.
* The greatest possible coverage should be achieved in the two days that the international managers were going to be in the country.
* In the case of managers from abroad, documentation should be prepared sufficiently broad and forceful to support them in the dissemination of the launch of AOL Argentina.

– Business Community.
– Financial Community.
– Government officials.
– Leaders of opinion.
– Internet users.
– Potential Internet users.
– Prospects.
– Current clients of other ISPs.
– Technology partners.
– Strategic partners.
– Industry analysts.
– Public Opinion in general.
– Advertisers

AOL user profile
The AOL user covers an ABC 1/2 target. These are people who start their online experience and need an Internet provider that provides ease of use, quick access and a rich content offer.

Execution of the plan
To achieve the objectives set out above, a Communications Strategy was designed and executed based on a broad spectrum of events that allowed us to reach several target audiences.

Stages of strategy development:
1) Preparation for the launch
In order to achieve a strong insertion in the Argentine market, we worked on the following aspects:

to. Creation of convening events
In order to obtain a massive impact, it was decided to work based on two major events: ¨ Massive press conference The objective of this event was to achieve the widest possible dissemination of the news of the launch of AOL Argentina and its service. To this end, graphic, radio and television journalists from national media were invited to cover the different informative aspects involved in this launch: economy, business, general interest, technology, telecommunications, sports, entertainment, social, advertising and marketing, resources human and politics. We worked on preparing a press kit that met the information requirements set out in the strategy and that had the approval of the parent company, which should review all documents also from a legal point of view, since AOL is a public company . This press conference was also invited to the main media in the provinces of Córdoba, Mendoza and Rosario, where AOL would launch soon.


Launch party
The objective of this event was to create a social gathering that would include different audiences, for which 1,200 people were invited among entrepreneurs, actors and models, partners and suppliers of AOL, opinion leaders, and executives of the company. Taking into account that the objective was to achieve great impact, the event took place at the Teatro Colón, a place that combines very well the typically Argentine, with culture and social. In addition, the event was especially attractive, because AOL invited international figures with a very positive image in Argentina such as Salma Hayek and Magic Johnson; besides national figures of international transcendence very recognized in our country as they are Emanuel Ortega, Ruth Infarinato and Bahiano. These figures also participated in the press conference. In addition to generating brand recall and knowledge of the company and its service in the people who would participate in these events, its repercussion would generate knowledge in the target of the company, that is, its potential clients.

b. Organization of presentation meetings
The key audiences with which it was necessary for AOL managers to deepen contacts were determined and the following presentation meetings were defined.

* Leaders of opinion
The main radio and television journalists, opinion makers, and directors of the main national media were invited.

* Possible Content Partners
According to a survey carried out in the market, those who could become members of AOL in content were invited. This meeting aimed to build relationships and include them in the launch activities, so that they feel part of AOL from the beginning.

* Breakfast with market analysts
This breakfast would give AOL executives the opportunity to establish a relationship with this public directly and educate them about the AOL service.

* Cocktail with Financial Analysts Gustavo Benejam, COO of AOL Latam, led this event that allowed the executives of AOL Argentina to make contact with the local financial community. This event also allowed preparing the ground for the next launch of the IPO of AOL Latin America.

* Presentation at San Andrés University
Taking into account the academic level of San Andrés University and its profile as a business man, Raymond Oglethorpe (at that time, COO of America Online), made a presentation to students of technological careers of this university in order to convert AOL in an attractive place to work.

* Meeting with business leaders
Organized by a manager of the Velox Bank, this meeting with Argentine business leaders would allow the directors of AOL to have a dialogue and exchange with important members of the business community of our country. Generating contacts for future business relationships and positioning the service of AOL in the minds of the most successful businessmen in Argentina.

* Breakfast with Advertising Agencies
The meeting with important executives of the 10 largest advertising agencies in our country, would allow AOL to show the advertising opportunities it offers, emphasizing the importance of the Internet environment.

* Lunch with government officials
This meeting allowed the directors of AOL to personally thank the support provided for this launch to those officials involved in it and establish long-term relationships with the decision-makers of the Argentine government.

* Meeting with President Fernando de la Rúa
Although this was not the first meeting with President De la Rua, this visit to Olivos allowed to formalize the launch of AOL Argentina and demonstrate support for the push that the government was giving to the development of telecommunications, Internet and electronic commerce. These events allow AOL Argentina to disseminate its business and service in depth and create long-term relationships, tending to lead from all points the Internet business in Argentina. It should also be noted that all the events and meetings described above were carried out in only two days.

c. Market analysis
The launch of AOL Argentina involved an extensive market analysis that covered:

* República Argentina Brief description of its most relevant parameters: geography, society, government, political parties, economy, telecommunications, external relations, relevant social aspects, external debt, inflation, number of telephone lines, cell phones.

* Internet users: Total population, current users and growth potential, growth drivers of Argentina, base of PCs installed and their distribution according to use, Internet market value, among others.

d. Spokesmen preparation
The documentation described above enabled the spokespeople to be prepared as regards the context of the launch. We also worked on the preparation of documentation related to the messages to be given and that, although they abide by what AOL is and the services it provides, it took into account in its definition both the context and the acceptance of concepts or words in our country. These documents included:

* Highlights to comment This is the 8 messages that could not be left out of any contact.

* Exercise of Questions and Answers Having analyzed the questions that could be made by the different audiences with which contacts were established, answers aligned to the communication strategy of AOL Argentina were prepared.

* Issues to Manage A document was prepared with the main aspects that could affect the image of this launch, which included truths and lies. The purpose of the document was to identify them, anticipate objections and prepare efficient responses.

* Frequently Asked Questions and Answers This is an expanded version of the most frequently asked questions that appear in the press kit, based on the experience of AOL worldwide. All these documents and a training of each one of them allowed the spokesmen to feel safe before the diverse audiences that they were going to face and in this way to pass a unique message about this important launch. This action was accompanied by an advertising and promotion campaign, whose objective was to strongly position the brand and demonstrate the ease of use of AOL.

As we have described above, America Online used a combination of communication tools that allowed it to fully exploit its presentation opportunities in Argentina.

to. Press Conference at Hotel Alvear – August 8, 2000
Press pre-conference:
Prior to the press conference, and through a personalized letter, the main opinion leaders were invited to a meeting with the directors of AOL to know the company, their expectations and the service in general. Thus, Nelson Castro, Marcelo Longobardi, Claudio Destéfano, Magdalena Ruiz Guiñazú, Nestor Scibona, Daniel Fernández Canedo, Martín Ravazzani, Luis Garibotti, Bernando Neustad, Luis Majul and Román Lejman had the opportunity to talk with the main directors of AOL personally. , among whom were Michael Lynton, President of AOL International; Charles Heringthon, President of AOL Latin America and Gustavo Cisneros, Chairman and CEO of Grupo Cisneros.


Press conference

* Upon arrival, the 400 journalists present were invited with a welcome cocktail. It was the press conference to launch AOL in Latin America with the largest number of journalists not only in quantity but also in a variety of areas.

* A press kit with information about AOL Inc was given to each journalist; AOL Latin American; AOL Argentina; Grupo Cisneros; Profiles and photos of the directors of AOL Argentina and the main executives at regional and international level; content agreements.

* At the beginning of the press conference, an explanatory video was presented and the main representatives of AOL took the floor, who kept the audience attentive for more than an hour while explaining the various aspects to highlight of this release: Michael Lynton referred To what AOL is in the world, Charles Herington exhibited about AOL Latin America, with the presence in Brazil and the then recent launch of AOL in Mexico and ended Gustavo Cisneros, who made reference to the union of CGC (Cisneros Group of Companies) and AOL Inc.

* After the exhibition, the journalists were able to ask questions, which allowed a profuse coverage of the event. This aspect of the meeting had to be interrupted after more than 30 minutes of questions, in order to continue the tight schedule of events and meetings.

* Then, national and international figures of music, entertainment and sports, among them Salma Hayek, Magic Johnson, Emanuel Ortega, Ruth Infarinato and Bahiano, posed for photos with a symbolic giant mouse that started the service of America On Line in Argentina. This gave a significant photographic impact to the coverage of the launch information.


* 15 computers were installed with the online service so that journalists could try it. Post press conference

* In order to deepen the aspects of this launch, a series of “one on one” interviews was organized with various AOL managers who had the opportunity to respond to the professional concerns of representatives of the following media: Diario Ambito Financiero, Buenos Aires Economic Newspaper, Buenos Aires Herald Newspaper, Clarín Newspaper, La Nación Newspaper, Apertura Magazine, Business Magazine, Mercado Magazine, Target Magazine and foreign correspondents.

* At the same time, a meeting was held between Raymond Oglethorpe and technology journalists to deepen the technical aspects that differentiate America On Line from the competition.

* In order to reflect the upcoming AOL launches in the interior, interviews were also organized with the media of Córdoba, Mendoza and Rosario that were invited specially.

– Another of the highlights of the launch of AOL, were the international celebrities who accompanied this launch: Salma Hayek and Magic Johnson. The following media made one to one notes with them: América TV (Rumors, Movete); Blue Television (All to the Divan, Come with Georgina) Channel 13 (Telepasillo, Teleshow, El Rayo); Chronicle TV; Clarín Newspaper, La Nación Newspaper, Caras Magazine; Gente Magazine, For You Magazine; Telefé (Cursed Monday; Versus); TN Show

– In addition, the information of the press conference was sent to 300 media, in order to ensure full coverage of the event.

b. Event at the Teatro Colón – August 8, 2000

* A press corralito was prepared for the arrival of the guests where we were accommodating the media so that they could cover the arrival of the guests, in the style of the Oscar Awards.
* In addition, we organized the entrance of the means to the celebration, once they had happened the international figures and the main guests, with the end that we could assist them in the realization of their journalistic coverage.

* This event, held on the night of August 8, 2000, was a mega-party that took place in the lobby and balconies of the mezzanine and 2nd. Floor of the Teatro Colón, a symbol of Argentine culture.
* It allowed the executives of AOL and the Cisneros Group to mix with the most important national and international figures, opinion leaders and business, entertainment and politics of our country. Approximately 1,200 guests attended, of which 200 were journalists whose aim was to cover fundamentally the social aspect of this launch.
* Taking into account the large number of people who attended the event, a VIP sector was prepared where AOL managers were able to talk peacefully with the most prominent guests.
* Meanwhile, Magic Johnson and Salma Hayek, participated in a chat before the guests and posed for photos and cameras.
* The guests had a large number of computers connected to the service of AOL Argentina, and were able to check their functions and functionalities, and their ease of use.
* Places were also set up for “photo opportunities” with the exhibition of the AOL Argentina logo.

It should be noted that all this great move had security experts from both our country and abroad.

In order to achieve the greatest press coverage possible, between the same night and the following day, photos of the event and celebrities were sent to the media that could not attend, both digitally and traditionally. The press coverage achieved thanks to these launches was very prominent, taking into account that more than 75 notes were recorded, of which 40 were graphic, 20 radio, 6 television and 10 agency cables between August 3 and 15 ( these were the notes reported by the contracted survey service, which only covered open television and the main radio stations, so we estimate that this number could double if we take into account cable television and FM radios). After 2 months of the launch, the media continued to inform about this event, reaching 151 achieved grades (registered by the same service) thanks to this launch strategy.

c. Launches in the Interior
* Once the service was launched in the Federal Capital, and as connection was being enabled in the cities, press conferences were organized to launch America On Line Argentina in the cities of Rosario, Córdoba, Mendoza and Mar del Plata.
* These press conferences were led by local executives who replicated the presentation made to journalists in each of the cities mentioned, adapting the message to the particular characteristics of each one in terms of local partners, prominent figures from the province, and potential for service growth, among others. Following the style of the press conference in Buenos Aires, prominent local figures were invited to start the service, as well as local partners.
Briefly, we will review the results achieved in each place:
* Rosario 30 journalists participated, in addition to local partners.
* Córdoba 65 journalists participated. The local figures summoned were José Meolans (Swimming); Santos Beningno Laciar (Box);Luis Fabián Artime (Soccer- Belgrano); Diego Garay (Soccer-Workshops); Gabriel Raies (Motoring -Rally), in addition to local partners.
* Mendoza 51 journalists participated. The local figures summoned were Pablo Chacón (Boxeo); Alejandro Abaurre (Godoy Cruz);Facundo Villalba (San Martín) and David Lebon (Musician), in addition to local partners.
* Mar del Plata 61 journalists participated. The figures summoned were the twins Barros Schelotto, Martín Palermo, the models Lara Bernasconi, Natalia Forchino, Solange Clibllo, among others, as well as the local partners.

d. Continuity of Launch in the Interior
From here, and as the service was being enabled in each province, we worked on the dissemination of this launch, organizing a full contact agenda with local media in the following locations:
-Santa Fe
-Fourth quarter
-White Bay

According to a statement dated May 17, 2001, announcing the quarterly results, AOL Latin America exceeded 750,000 members in the region, which reflects an important growth 18 months after its launch in Brazil (November 1999) and less than a year ago. of its launch in Argentina (August 2000). Today, the total of associates of AOL Latin America, between Brazil, Mexico and Argentina and the service of AOL in Puerto Rico remain online an average of 30 minutes a day, which constitutes an indicator of consumer loyalty.

The company’s communication policies prevent us from reporting the number of local users. Anyway, an article published by the newspaper La Nación on August 3, 2001 (“AOL, with new weapons to win subscribers”) indicates that the regional users of AOL are 850,000, of which 100,000 would correspond to Argentina.


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