July 29th, 2008

JCPenney Creates Online Game for College Girls

By Amy Johannes
PROMO Magazine

JCPenney has launched an online game to help pitch ita dorm room products to college-bound women.

The game, called “Dork Dodge,” at http://www.dorkdodge.com, plays into dorm life while entertaining and challenging students with interactive, social scenarios. Along the way, it exposes them to the line of products called Dorm Life, JCPenney’s new lifestyle brand for young adults. Gamers learn decorating ideas using the products, which are used during game play to gain points or avoid pitfalls.

Players choose an avatar and can view profiles of other dorm mates on the site, similar to social-networking site MySpace.com. Gamers navigate different rooms where they encounter various people in different situations. Video footage brings each character to life. People can choose from multiple-choice answers to find a way out. The goal? To dodge dorks and find true love.

At the end of the game, players can check out JCPenney’s Dorm Life gear or get some tips on freshmen life on the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dormlife. Word-of-mouth marketing and blog seeding support the game.

“When you are thinking about decorating your dorm room, JCPenney is not something that will come to the surface for young girls,” said Kim Kline, vice president of account management and planning for EVB San Francisco, the agency that developed the concept and is handling the game. “JCPenney wanted to find a new media engagement idea that was going to make some young girl say, ‘Wow, was that JCPenney?’ ”

JCPenney believes it has an audience. Upwards of 40% of all U.S. gamers (computer and consul players) are women, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

It’s the retailer’s first marketing game targeting young women. The company this year ramped up its digital marketing initiatives for the back-to-school period to reach digital consumers, the company said.

“We certainly want to position the Dorm Life brand as a relevant resource to these young adults as they graduate from high school and head off to college,” Ruby Anik, senior vice president of brand marketing, said. “For many of them, this is a first opportunity to define themselves among new college friends by their decorating and expression of personal style. We want to be seen as a relevant contributor to a very exciting time in their lives.”

JCPenney will look at online games as a top option to engage with its younger customers in a relevant way in the future, Anik said.

The game will be available through mid-September, Kline said.

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