July 15th, 2008

Sears 'Arrives' on the Social Networking Scene

PRNewswire-FirstCall

Sears has partnered with some of the biggest names in youth interactive marketing to ensure that their new back to school message, “Donít Just Go Back. Arrive,” resonates with and engages the coveted teen and tween demographic this season. Thirteen sites have partnered with Sears to create custom animation, virtual worlds and social networking applications aimed at driving the target market to the Sears online “Arrive Lounge.”

The Web site, http://www.arrivelounge.com, features excusive, interactive content from the entire Sears 2008 back to school offering:

-- Content from Searsí back to school campaign featuring Vanessa Hudgens, star of the hit film series High School Musical, including a long-format video shot by Grammy award-winning director Joseph Kahn. The five-part video series focuses on Hudgensí quest to pick a style for the first day of school.

-- A chance for visitors to vote for the male cast member who will star with Hudgens in the final episode of the five-part commercial series.

-- A remix master that goes live in July, which will offer users a tool to make their own music videos and share them with friends via YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.

-- Exclusive content from MTVís “The American Mall” that includes Sears product integration throughout the movie.

-- Registration for VIP Access Cards, part of a Sears loyalty program, that offer cardholders the opportunity to obtain exclusive benefits, including entry into various sweepstakes and notification of exclusive sales at Sears and Sears.com.

-- Sweepstakes prizes include a Vanessa Hudgens concert at the winnerís school, private jet and limo rides to arrive at school in style and a jet shopping trip to Hollywood.

A host of online partners, such as Alloy.com, Disney and Nickelodeon have partnered with Sears for this back to school initiative, and are engaging their interactive elements to connect their users with Sears messaging and direct teens and tweens back to http://www.arrivelounge.com. Partners include:

-- Alloy Media + Marketingís Teen.com Network - Virtual world Zwinky.com created a Sears virtual store within its Zwinchester Mall, offering users exclusive apparel for their personal avatars and items for their rooms and will host a “Fashion Forward” event celebrating the best of B-T-S fashion. 3d avatar creator Meez.com features a Sears B-T-S boutique offering users the coolest clothing, backgrounds, and animations to get ready for the new school year and invites users to compete in a “Best Dressed B-T-S” competition. Additional promotion will run across Alloy.com.

-- GoFish.com - GoFish has created custom Sears Back-To-School branded experiences. These include a Sears clothing store and runway contest on Cartoon Doll Emporium and WeeWorld Sears WeeMee assets and contest.

-- Nick.com - The site developed a custom Sears back to school section on their site with Nickelodeon character driven activities, quizzes and videos that link to http://www.arrivelounge.com.

-- Addicting Games - The Web site developed a fully branded back to school hub featuring custom games created exclusively for Sears and integrated Sears “Arrive Lounge” content throughout the site.

-- The-N.com - The-N.com developed a custom Sears boutique in its avatar mall and products within The-N avatar world. Every day the boutique is giving away a free virtual item and free creds (the-Nís online currency). The-N also features a Sears Screening Party where users can view and interact with custom Sears back-to-school content.

-- FunBrain.com/Poptropica.com - Developed a custom Sears game for Funbrain.com and a Sears building within Poptropica.com, a virtual world.

-- NeoPets.com - NeoPets has included exclusive Sears content within the Summer Faire environment on their site.

-- Facebook - Sears back-to-school Facebook Pages featuring “Arrive Lounge” content and applications as well as the ability for students to become “fans” of Sears and interact.

-- MySpace - Custom Sears back-to-school page featuring “Arrive Lounge” content and apps.

-- Seventeen/CosmoGIRL! - Both magazines are participating in cross-channel promotions with custom online Sears back-to-school content.

“Expanding our marketing strategy into the online world of user communities and social networking is a critical means of developing engagement and brand loyalty within the youth demographic,” says Richard Gerstein, SVP and chief marketing officer, Sears. “By modifying our strategy to reach tweens in their own environment we are demonstrating to them how Sears can be a part of their life, from their entertainment to their school wardrobe.”

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