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Excite promotion to build brand

In its latest attempt to draw eyeballs, search engine Excite announces a reward for the discovery of the real "Dot Com."

In its latest attempt to draw eyeballs, search engine Excite (XCIT) has announced a reward for the discovery of the real "Dot Com."

Perhaps in homage to Burger King's "Find Herb" campaign of the 1980s, Excite is looking for the namesake of the domain ".com."

If your name is Dot, Dottie, or Dorothy Com, you may be eligible for Excite's $500 reward. The contest is running on the site from August 6 to August 20.

The promotional gimmick is one of the more novel efforts by a search engine to strengthen its brand identity with users. Excite also is hoping that users will associate fun and picaresque themes with its product.

The "Dot Com" campaign doesn't take much in the way of resources for the company. Joe Kraus, senior vice president and cofounder of Excite, felt that the contest is another way for Excite to "redefine what it means to be a free online service."

Seema Chowdhury, an analyst with Forrester Research agreed with Kraus that this type of promotion can help enhance brand loyalty: "I think they're trying to build a personality. They'll end up with loyalty where other [search engines] won't. The only interesting thing about Yahoo these days is its name."

"It's probably quirky enough for much of the Web community to be entertained," she added.

That quirkiness is what Kraus is hoping will appeal to Netizens. "Everybody's talking about '.com.' We want to find out what she has to say about the Internet."