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Disney to Embrace 'Safe' MySpace Promos

WSJ reports that as part of the marketing effort for its big summer movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," Walt Disney Co. last month held a contest on the popular MySpace.com social networking website.

To publicize the contest, Disney built its own "page" on MySpace and bought an ad on MySpace's front page. But it steered clear of the profile pages created by MySpace's nearly 85 million users -- the popular but controversial part of the site where users post links to friends' pages, list their likes and dislikes and display photos, sometimes including scenes of underage drinking and sexually suggestive material.

"We would never be on a personal profile," says Jack Pan, vice president of marketing at Disney's Buena Vista Pictures. "We want to be in the official areas." Disney is one of an increasing number of advertisers that are cautiously starting to embrace MySpace. Acquired by News Corp. last year, MySpace is one of the fastest growing and most heavily trafficked sites on the Internet, and its largely teenage membership is very attractive to advertisers. Marketers worry, though, about the site's reputation as an uncontrolled virtual community where pornographers and sexual predators are known to lurk.

To draw in advertisers, MySpace has quietly begun building an array of new sections, highlighted on the front page, that deal with subjects ranging from books and movies to games, comedy and horoscopes. The areas, which contain articles written by editors and links to related blogs and groups elsewhere on MySpace, are meant to be "safe" for advertisers that want to appear on the site but don't want to be associated with unsavory material.

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