Moonfruit History IV – Mar to Jun 2000

What do you do when you’ve launched a new product in the dizzy dotcom days? The answer is simple – Advertise!

If you remember the conventional wisdom of dotcom times, it was 1. Build something, 2. Raise money, 3. Advertise the hell out of it, 4. Grab as many customers as possible, 5. Sell or float the company, 6. Retire and write a smug book about your experiences. We were entering stage 3 and starting to ramp up the spend. Little did we know we’d never get to write the book…

Dotcom advertising was about trying to get your brand recognised within a crowded market place of other dotcom brands. Moonfruit was small by comparison to some, and had the difficult job of getting heard. The likes of were spending £60m on global campaigns (and we all know what happened to them…), while we had around £2m in this phase.

Now don’t get me wrong, £2m was a lot of cash – and what I’d give for a £2m marketing campaign now – but in the crazy dotcom days everyone wanted campaigns, so everything cost a lot of money. And marketing directors, ad agencies, online agencies, etc., were all in their early days of dotcom experience so everything was a bit experimental and had to be very ‘creative’, particularly to make an impact in the crowded space. Talent was in short supply, so things cost a lot, and some people got some very weird results.

Moonfruit’s campaign was all about sharing your passions online – getting people to realise that they could find like minded people by communicating their own passions and hobbies on the internet, and Moonfruit’s website building tools were there as the way to do this.

So our campaign was to focus around people’s passions. And to make sure it got some attention, some of there were a little unusual…For example, we had a moustache society, an amateur wrestling (US style) group, and the infamous ‘bum-painters’ – who basically put paint on their bottoms and used them as brushes to print on canvas.

These were all print adverts running in various magazines and billboards in the UK, and backed up with online campaigns and websites. I’ve managed to find and rebuild the bum-painting website for your viewing pleasure! Check it out at

Then there were the TV ads. These also focused around people’s passions and the call to action of building a website to share them with the world. The passions were a little less weird – train collectors, breakdancers and football sticker trading – but each ad tried to add something different to make them a bit more funny or memorable.

Apparently the original ads were meant to be 30 seconds, but were eventually cut at 20 seconds for budgetary reasons. I’ve put a site together with the final versions, so let us know what you think. They kind of work, but could probably have done with that extra 10 seconds to pull things together. While your watching, just think that these ads ran during the Euro 2000 football championship on UK TV…

So those were the ads! They certainly worked and we started to get high volumes of traffic to the site – at one stage being in the top 12 visited sites in the UK – but turning that interest into business success is a different story. To be continued…

By Moonfruit founder Joe White

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