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Monday,  June 30 12:01 AM EDT

Symantec Offering Virus Sponsorship

By Brian Briggs

Cupertino, CA - Symantec, the leading manufacturer of anti-virus software, announced that it would begin offering virus names for sponsorship.

Dennis Gramlich, Vice-president of Marketing at Symantec, explained the program, "A sponsor will get millions of ad impressions just from being listed on our 'Latest Virus Threat' alert on our website as well as through our security advisories. That's not even counting the media coverage that many viruses receive. What if, for example, that instead of Code Red it Sponsored viruseswas 'W32.Pfizer' or 'W32/Klez.e@MM brought to you by Microsoft.' Companies are attracted to that kind of exposure, and are willing to pay for it."

"Right now the number of sponsors we have lined up is actually outpacing the number of viruses in the wild," continued Gramlich, "so we're having to create some viruses of our own."

Symantec is not the only company offering viruses for sponsorship. McAfee recently announced a deal with New Line Cinema to deliver the W32/Return.of.the.King mass mailing worm to hit desktops in early December. The worm comes with subject lines like 'Message: Go See Return of the King December 17th' or 'Your Files:Return of the King.zip' and has promotional information in the message body.

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"If it's not clogging up networks it won't get the press, so we made it especially virulent. Nothing will be able to stop the spread of this one, especially McAfee," boasted McAfee marketing chief, Thomas Winzler.

Advertising analysts agree that it's a good approach. "It's the kind of viral marketing that companies are looking for today," said Vern Junxor at Ad Age.

Many companies initially shied away from being associated with something with such a negative image, but then realized they already advertised on Fox News.

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