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Brand is beautiful

CNN goes for more viewers via Web world

NEW YORK — Its crown as top cable newsie is long gone, but CNN is still the king of Web news, an advantage the network hopes to widen and translate into more viewers of its television newscasts.

Cabler has launched a branding campaign featuring the net’s biggest stars — such as Lou Dobbs, Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer — to draw attention to the Web site, which routinely outdraws every other news site on the Web.

CNN.com claimed 7.7 million users on Election Day, and another 10.1 million the day after as readers tried to sort out which states went red or blue. CNN’s closest rivals are MSNBC and Yahoo News, according to Nielsen Netratings.

CNN has taken the top spot in six of the last nine months, with Yahoo News winning the other two. In September, CNN.com had 23.3 million users compared with MSNBC’s 21.4 million, Yahoo’s 21.3 million and AOL News’ 15 million.

CNN’s nemesis, Fox News, which took CNN’s crown as top cable news network more than two years ago, isn’t a close challenger on the Web.

“Today, people have a much more three-dimensional relationship with the way they connect to the news,” CNN marketing senior veep Scot Safon said. “The numbers tell a little bit of it, but they don’t tell the whole picture.”

CNN believes the value of the online aud is high because users engage with the brand at work, a time of day generally considered lost by the news nets.

Humorous spots, part of the “CNN on Your Command” campaign, make light of the net’s dominance of at-work viewers with CNN personalities making personal visits to office workers to deliver the news.

Cooper stars as a fast-talking know-it-all answering the rapid-fire questions of an average office worker. Dobbs tries to deliver a segment on outsourcing when a worker, eating noodles, politely asks him to back up and start over.

Spots are designed to give a sense of humor to CNN’s news personalities, a serious issue as the competition wins viewers with engaging, opinionated newscasters.

Marketing push comes as the cabler pulls the plug on financial news net CNNfn. Safon said the campaign has been in the pipeline for seven months but was delayed until after the election.

Ads will appear on CNN, Headline News and other Turner networks, as well as on screens at Regal Cinemas.

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