Gearon Snares Another in Web

Online Educational Source Taps Shop for Multimedia Campaign
BOSTON–Gearon Hoffman last week added to its growing roster of Internet clients, picking up advertising duties for WebCT, an online provider of college course materials and educational software.
Ad spending will be in the mid-seven-figure range, said Greg Jarboe, vice president of marketing at WebCT.
The Boston agency landed the assignment following a review of undisclosed shops. “They weren’t on my first short list,” Jarboe said of Gearon Hoffman.
“They aggressively came after the business” late in the pitch and nailed the brand message with a creative presentation, which used the themeline, “Getting smarter all the time,” Jarboe said.
Gearon Hoffman will create print, radio, collateral and online advertising using that slogan. Work will break later this quarter.
The mission: position the brand as a more serious-minded, feature-rich alternative to and other services that sell textbooks and college-related merchandise online. “Other sites tell you how to score on Saturday night. We tell you how to score on your exams,” Jarboe said.
WebCT (short for Web Course Tools) was formed in 1997 by Murray Goldberg, a senior instructor at the University of British Colombia. It was acquired last year by Peabody, Mass.-based Universal Learning Technology, which adopted the WebCT name. The company offers e-commerce services; a Web-based community linking students and instructors throughout North America; and course-related materials that are used at more than 800 schools worldwide, Jarboe said.
WebCT makes money through banner ads and sponsorships with partners like
Advertising targeting undergrads and graduate students will break mainly in college newspapers and on pop-music stations. Efforts geared toward professors and administrators will appear in specialty publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Gearon Hoffman has been increasingly active in the category of late. Earlier this month it acquired advertising chores for, which builds private Web sites for companies. The agency also works for search engine Direct Hit Technologies and, a CMGI-backed firm that offers Web-based payroll and banking services. WebCT is backed in part by CMGI’s @Ventures arm, but Gearon Hoffman’s ties to that company via OneCore played no role in the agency winning the account, Jarboe said.

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.