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September 29, 1999
What Does Nupur Want From The Internet?
For Nupur Lala, the National Spelling Bee champion, the terms 'advertising campaign' and 'agent' now have personal connotations.
The 14-year-old Arkansas resident is among the several celebrities and ordinary people chosen by Nortel, the world largest supplier of Internet equipment, for its $ 100 million advertising campaign. The ad, which will run through the year in print and on television, was designed by Temerlin McClain Advertising and Fleishman-Hillard.
"The whole thing is absolutely overwhelming. I can't believe I am going to be featured with all these people. I am very excited," said Lala, who was asked by Howard Scripps, the organizers of the Spelling Bee, if she would be interested in participating in the campaign back in July.
The campaign which has celebrities like hockey star Joe Nieuwendyk and Olympic star Michael Johnson has the music of the old Beatles song, Come Together in the background. The glitzy, smooth and tongue-in-cheek campaign asked heroes and everyday people to respond to the question, "What do you want the Internet to be?"
"Nupur had a great answer on what she would like the Internet to be," said Andy Lark, spokesperson for Nortel. "And if you want to know what it is, tune in to the ads next week. We are not giving that away."
Johnson said in his ad he would like the Internet to be "something that will keep up with me". Lala's quote was picked from her one-page essay which she submitted last month.
An avid user of the Internet, both for entertainment and research, Lala flew to New York to shoot for the ad and wore clothes from Banana Republic. She liked the wardrobe so much that she bought the same clothes later.
"I liked the campaign so much that I might consider doing more work like this," said Lala, a student at the Woodland Junior High School, Arkansas, who said she got a "good amount of money" for the work, which has gone into the college fund.
In June, Lala, who was a student in the Louis Benito Middle School in Tampa, Florida, practised two hours a day for many months to win the 72nd Annual Scripps Howard contest held in a Washington. She started with 249 champion spellers and spelled out 12 words to win $ 10,000 of encyclopedias, two airline tickets and computer software. In July, the family moved to Arkansas.
Lala's old school principal Lewis Brinson is thrilled for her.
"I see that she continues to be famous and achieve things. I am happy for her. These things couldn't have happened to a better person, she's a superb students," said Brinson.
The Canada-based Nortel had annual revenues of $ 17.6 billion and is a competitor of Lucent Technology and Cisco and this campaign is similar to its previous one, in which a mix of executives and construction workers were lip-synching to the same 1969 Beatles' song, Lark said.
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