Mon, 2000-07-03

New York, NY-Last December, Oxygen Media selected Black Hammer Productions (BHP) to design and produce their "Oprah Goes Online" website, intended as a companion to Oprah's new television show on the Oxygen Network. Both the show and the website are designed to educate web novices by providing a series of "Web 101" type tutorials in which Oprah instructs her audiences on Internet basics. This includes how to use search engines, web shopping, online auctions, and a glossary of technical terms for the beginning web surfer.

Black Hammer, a five-year-old Silicon Alley New Media developer, has been lauded in New York Magazine and other publications as one of the country's most creative and successful interactive agencies. Black Hammer designs and produces multi-media products, including websites, CD ROMs, web games and interactive kiosks. Of the "Oprah Goes Online" project, BHP founder and President Matthew Schlanger comments: "We knew we were dealing with an icon, and that millions of people were going to come to this site with the special trust that Oprah has built up in her vast followers over many years. Since the target audience for Oprah Goes Online are web novices, we had to develop a user interface that would be enjoyable and easy to use even for the computer phobic." "One of the innovative features of the site," Schlanger notes, "is its use of layered navigation buttons on the homepage that reveal hidden hypertext links and images. We also created animated 'cyber guides' which lead the audience through about 20 lessons, each having its own cyber challenge and cyber diploma."

Schlanger reports that Oxygen provided them with "a world of great content to be woven seamlessly into the site, and made accessible to the neophyte." Amazingly, start to finish, production of the site, which launched on February 2, 2000, took Black Hammer only two months, working with their staff of over 20 professionals.

"Oprah Goes Online" now includes health tips, spiritual coaching, contests, message boards, newsgroups, streaming video of past Oprah Winfrey shows, and a search engine capability that enables visitors to locate just about any information on any topic, from, as they say on the site, "aarvarks to zygots."

Comments Schlanger: "Our task was to utilize the great material Oxygen Media gave us and make the site attractive, educational, helpful, and most of all fun, like Oprah herself! In the end, Oprah Goes Online was one of our all-time favorite assignments," Schlanger adds. "The Oxygen people gave us wonderful content, and then basically said 'go with it,' leaving us alone to get the job done. It just doesn't get much better than that!"

"Oxygen was pleased, which makes us happy," reports Marni Kotak, BHP Director of Business Development and Marketing. "When you work around the clock, at breakneck speed, the final product better not only meet but exceed the client's high expectations, and also our own."

In addition to being selected by Oxygen for this prestigious assignment, Black Hammer Productions has done major websites for Thomas Publishing and Advanstar, and has developed a series of delightful interactive web games for General Mills, Showtime and Nickelodeon. BHP also has a strong hold on the children's CD ROM entertainment market through the company's development of the multiple award-winning Scholastic I Spy CD ROM series, and Simon and Schuster's CD ROM "Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" by Vicky Iovine. Other noteworthy projects include the WNET Nature Series, including the award-winning edutainment CD ROM, "Virtual Serengeti," and an interactive sales presentation, with Flash animation maps, photorealistic 3D models of expansion plans, an organization chart that incorporates videotaped interviews with executives, etc. to help the Pyramid Companies sell their multi-billion-dollar shopping complex. They have also created compelling educational interactive trade show exhibits for major pharmaceutical companies, etc. Their clients, many from the dot-com and entertainment industries, include, the Wall Street Journal, the National Basketball Association, Globo Latino, Qualcomm and many others.

For more information on Black Hammer, visit To interview Matthew Schlanger call Judy Walters at 212-736-2650