A Network and a Retailer Seek Synergy
WHAT do NBC and Bloomingdale’s have in common?
Bloomingdale’s Best of Men’s catalog features Eddie Cibrian of NBC’s “The Playboy Club.”
They both have a lot of product to promote in the fall: new shows on the network, new skirts and shoes in the stores.
So the two are working together this month and next, encouraging both tune-in and walk-ins. In a marketing partnership that will be formally announced on Wednesday, Bloomingdale’s catalogs will feature actors from new NBC shows; shoppers will be invited to try out a virtual reality app that inserts them onto the red carpet of an NBC premiere; and the network’s “Primetime Preview Show” will be set partly in a Bloomingdale’s store.
“This is about the qualities of the two brands coming together,” said Tim Farish, the senior vice president of marketing for NBC Entertainment.
Frank Berman, the senior vice president for marketing at Bloomingdale’s, which has long thought about retailing as theater, said the overarching message was that shoppers and viewers could “look the part and be the part.”
“It’s not to experience NBC as advertising; it’s to be a part of their fall lineup,” Mr. Berman said.
Every fall, NBC and the other networks seek novel ways to stand out from the crowd of new shows. Perhaps complicating future fall marketing plans for NBC, last week the network’s entertainment chairman, Bob Greenblatt, installed Len Fogge as the new president for marketing, replacing Adam Stotsky, who had been in charge for three years and had overseen the Bloomingdale’s deal. Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Fogge previously worked together at Showtime.
In September, NBC is introducing two dramas, “The Playboy Club” and “Prime Suspect,” and three sitcoms, “Free Agents,” “Up All Night” and “Whitney.” It plans a premiere of a third drama, “Grimm,” in October. Each of the September premieres will be highlighted by the Bloomingdale’s partnership, particularly “The Playboy Club” and “Whitney.”
The retailer’s annual Best of Men’s catalog has Eddie Cibrian, one of the stars of “The Playboy Club,” on the cover, and Amber Heard, one of the club’s bunnies, as a centerfold. A section of the catalog is set at an actual Playboy Club in Las Vegas.
The Hot Book catalog, for women, has a section set at Rockefeller Center in New York City that imagines a day in the life of a network executive — “a very glamorized version,” Mr. Farish joked. That catalog — as well as the separate Home catalog — has photos of Maria Bello of “Prime Suspect,” Hank Azaria of “Free Agents,” Christina Applegate of “Up All Night” and Whitney Cummings of “Whitney,” but the actors are not acting as models, he said.
The network will also have a presence in Bloomingdale’s store windows in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. During the annual Fashion’s Night Out event in New York on Sept. 8, the NBC-themed windows will be interactive, Mr. Berman said.
In separate interviews, Mr. Farish and Mr. Berman sounded most enthusiastic about a virtual reality experience that will be offered at Bloomingdale’s 39 stores from Sept. 8 to Sept. 25. Using an iPhone app called Goldrun, shoppers who stand in a certain spot in the store can snap photos of themselves and appear, through augmented reality, to be standing on a red carpet with stars like Ms. Applegate or Mr. Azaria. Mr. Berman called it a “virtual reality photography session” and said employees would be on hand at the stores to help passers-by.
The companies hope that shoppers will share their photos on social networking sites; to encourage such behavior, the shoppers will be eligible to win a walk-on role on “The Playboy Club,” an NBC set visit, and $100 gift cards to Bloomingdale’s. Online, people can enter the sweepstakes by watching videos that NBC will produce about the fashion of the characters on the new fall shows. “It all links back to our Web sites as well as our Facebook pages and Twitter pages,” Mr. Berman said.
Bloomingdale’s is also a co-star in the “NBC Primetime Preview Show” that is broadcast by NBC’s local stations, cable channels and Web sites before the fall premieres. Hosted by Ms. Cummings — whose mother was once a publicist for Bloomingdale’s — the end of the half-hour show involves a shopping spree at the Los Angeles store. At one point Ms. Cummings buys makeup for the men on “Grimm.”
Mr. Farish said that NBC had specifically sought out a fashion retailer for a fall season partnership. Bloomingdale’s was a great fit, he said, because the company attracts an upscale consumer and “has a sheen of quality.”
Mr. Berman declined to comment on the financial terms of the partnership, but said Bloomingdale’s was not selling NBC ad pages in its catalogs. Both companies were “investing in this partnership equally,” he said.
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