Unilever takes stake in portal

Consumer goods giant Unilever has taken a strategic stake in WOWGO, the teenage girl portal site expected to launch in late spring.

Michael Gold, founder of GGT Advertising and French Gold Abbott, will join the venture as executive chairman, alongside chief executive David Peller.

Unilever, Durlacher Corporation and the Eureka Interactive Fund have raised &£6m to launch and develop the site.

Keith Weed, chairman of Unilever’s personal care business Elida Fabergé, says: “We are constantly looking for new ways to get closer to the teenage market and build lasting brand relationships. Our participation with WOWGO will enable us to extend our reach more effectively.”

According to Peller, Unilever’s stake suits its strategic thinking. It has already made major ad and sponsorship commitments to AOL and Microsoft sites in the US markets. But WOWGO will deal with Unilever as an advertising client “strictly on commercial terms,” he says.

The site has already hired 30 people to build content, and is expected to hire more before its launch. Site marketing will focus primarily on a consumer PR campaign through Freud Communications – which handles ex-Spice Girl Geri Haliwell.

WOWGO head of marketing Kathy Brown played down suggestions that the site would struggle to establish itself as a major media brand in a teenage girl market already dominated by strong magazine titles and spin-off Websites.

She says: “Most magazines have lead times of two months. But we can react straight away to issues affecting the teen girl audience on the site.”

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