BLUELIGHT.COM TO HAND OUT FREE NET ACCESS CD-ROMS

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK — BlueLight.com has begun distributing eight million additional CD-ROMs that offer access to its free Internet service. The play to power-up customer traffic on the site comes as it launches a full rollout of goods, between now and June 13, over and above its current limited assortment.
BlueLight, which is 60 percent owned by Kmart, is giving away the CD-ROM-based software at Kmart stores and via BlueLight’s consumer call-in offices and online distribution centers.
“Thirty million people visit a Kmart retail location every week, creating an unsurpassed opportunity for distributing BlueLight’s free ISP service,” noted Mark H. Goldstein, chief executive officer of BlueLight, a stand-alone entity based in San Francisco.
“Leveraging the marketing power of partners such as Kmart, Yahoo, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia will allow BlueLight to become one of the largest Internet service providers in the shortest time possible,” Goldstein projected. BlueLight has already gotten a big financial boost from that trio of partners, plus Softbank Venture Capital, which together have pumped more than $75 million into the startup.
According to Goldstein, BlueLight’s distribution of the eight million CD-ROMs represents the largest in-store giveaway of free Internet service.
So far, BlueLight has signed on nearly two million users for its free Internet service and expects to tally more than three million by yearend. It acquired its first million users in a 14-week period, two months ahead of the company’s projections.
Roughly 40 percent of the people who have signed up for BlueLight’s service have not been on the Internet before, and 30 percent have come from America Online, according to a BlueLight survey.
Internet consultant Jupiter Communications is estimating that by 2003, more than 13 million online households in the U.S. will be using free ISPs, with 8.8 million of those households — or 13 percent of the U.S. online market — making those ISPs their primary means of accessing the Net.
Six-month-old BlueLight.com began distributing the CD-ROM in mid-December in more than 1,400 Big Kmart and Super Kmart stores; online at bluelight.com; and via phone at 1-888-945-9255.
The second wave of CD-ROM giveaways is marked by an increased presence for the free service throughout Kmart stores, including new fixtures and signs.
On weekends, when Kmart sites are heavily trafficked by shoppers, customer greeters will distribute disks at store entrances — one of 21 spots in every Kmart where visitors can pick up a CD-ROM.BlueLight.com will also continue to promote the free ISP through Kmart ad circulars that reach 72 million households each week; via Yahoo; and through Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia properties, as the Internet service of choice of marthastewart.com.
BlueLight.com’s Totally Free Internet Service is one of the key attributes of its “Sticky Bricks” strategy, which is based on the full integration of real-world and online assets. For example, BlueLight is establishing its brand and building an audience for its expanded e-tail destination by harnessing Kmart’s brick-and-mortar stores to promote the free Internet service.
The technology infrastructure and access software for the free ISP is made available by Spinway.com, a strategic partner of BlueLight’s, while the site’s partnership with Yahoo brings access to an array of Yahoo’s services and content such as free e-mail, news updates, and sports features.
BlueLight.com was formed last year, and went live online on Dec. 13.