REAL ESTATE

DreamWorks unveils DreamPlace at GGP and Forest City Malls

BY Katherine Boccaccio

DreamWorks Animation makes its official foray into the retail space with the launch of DreamPlace, a state-of-the-art reimagining of the holiday retail experience slated to be unveiled at select GGP and Forest City malls this holiday season.

DreamPlace is a 2,000-sq.-ft. holiday cottage and combines the latest technology with magical storytelling from creative minds behind such hit franchises as Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon. DreamPlace reimagines one of the signature moments of childhood – meeting Santa Claus.

The unique and interactive experience is set to debut in a total of seven locations nationwide owned by both General Growth Properties and Forest City Enterprises.

Tapping into DreamWorks Animation’s stable of world-renowned artists, storytellers and innovators, DreamPlace enables children to experience the full narrative of a visit to the North Pole. Prior to their mall visit, families can make appointments by app, negating the familiar long lines for Santa before embarking on the adventure, which includes an immersive journey with Shrek and his friends as they guide children and families to the North Pole.

DreamPlace is set to debut this holiday season in major markets nationwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

“DreamPlace turns the traditional mall holiday visit on its head with an immersive, interactive approach that draws on our signature brand of technology, storytelling and of course, humor,” said DreamWorks Animation’s Chief Global Brand Officer Michael Francis. "We are continually looking for new ways to bring our characters to life and DreamPlace will deliver an unparalleled experience which fans will absolutely love.”

DreamPlace will debut this holiday season at the following GGP and Forest City locations:

GGP
• Glendale Galleria – Glendale (Los Angeles), California
• The Parks at Arlington – Arlington (Dallas/Fort Worth), Texas
• Fashion Show – Las Vegas
• North Point Mall – Alpharetta (Atlanta), Georgia
• Oakbrook Center – Oak Brook (Chicago), Illinois

Forest City Enterprises
• Victoria Gardens – Rancho Cucamonga, California
• Westchester’s Ridge Hill – Yonkers, New York


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Aaron’s eyes e-commerce as big sales driver

BY CSA STAFF

A heightened emphasis on e-commerce, store closures and operational efficiencies are among the strategic initiatives underway at Aaron’s where the operator of 2,100 stores is looking to restore growth of furniture, electronics, appliances and accessories.

The company posted disappointing second quarter results which prompted CEO Ronald Allen to elaborate on several strategies the company had highlighted earlier this year.

"We have been aggressively developing our online strategy and are extremely pleased with an e-commerce pilot program we developed and deployed over the last two months," Allen said. "We will continue to build on these key learnings as we work towards the rollout of our e-commerce platform in early 2015. This demonstrates our strategic initiative to reach out to customers in an ever evolving marketplace."

Online initiatives are expected to have a minimal impact on sales this year, but longer term the company said it expects online will be a substantial revenue driver.

Other moves highlighted included the closure of 44 stores in the third quarter of this year and a vague reference to further store rationalization as warranted. In addition to expense savings from the closures, the company said it would pare $10 million from its operating expenses by restructuring operations and making undisclosed job cuts. It also expects to save money through enhancements to its inventory management system.

The strategic moves were announced in conjunction with disappointing second quarter financial results. Although sales increased 22% to $672 million in the quarter ended June 30, the gain was driven entirely by an acquisition of the Progressive Finance company as same store sales declined 3%. Profits fell sharply to $8.5 million, or 12 cents, compared to $25.9 million, or 34 cents a share the prior year.

"Our acquisition of Progressive Finance opens new and fast-growing channels to our customers that we previously could not access. The combination with Progressive positions Aaron’s to maintain its leadership position in the lease purchase market and drive shareholder value,” Allen said. “We believe there are tremendous synergy opportunities with Progressive, and initiatives to capture these synergies are underway. While we are excited about our future prospects, we are not pleased with the performance of our core business.”

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Cody Simpson joins Macy’s American Rag “All Access” campaign

BY CSA STAFF

Pop singer Cody Simpson has become the latest artist to join the American Rag “All Access” campaign, which kicks off July 28 and continues through November. American Rag, available only at Macy’s, launched the program in February, and features exclusive music, videos, online sweepstakes and in-store appearances from some of today’s “rising stars.”

Simpson’s collaboration with All Access for American Rag will include everything from social activations to marketing and advertising collateral that will feature the pop star modeling American Rag’s latest looks for the fall season.

“I’m excited to team up with American Rag and connect with my fans through the All Access campaign,” said Simpson. “This program is an all-access pass, giving me the opportunity to share music, photos and behind-the-scenes details with my fans, and to even perform and meet them in person. It’s a great mix of fashion and music that they can’t experience anywhere else.”

Simpson, an Australian native, landed in the worldwide music scene after uploading videos of himself singing on YouTube, and he will continue getting social with his fans through the American Rag campaign. From takeovers of American Rag’s Instagram account (instagram.com/raggedmag) to blog posts on RaggedMag.com that offer insight on his latest projects and musical process, Simpson will be sharing special content with fans throughout the program.

On Nov. 8, customers at Macy’s Roosevelt Field will have the opportunity to see a live performance from Simpson, plus take part in a meet-and-greet, time permitting, with any $40 American Rag Juniors or Young Men’s purchase.

Fans will have the opportunity to win a once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Simpson by getting social as part of the campaign. From Sept. 8 through Oct. 6, fans can "regram" the official contest photo posted on September 8 from @raggedmag, using the hash-tag #ARAllAccess for an opportunity to win a trip for two to Los Angeles for a private meet-and-greet with Simpson at his in-store appearance on Nov. 8 and a $500 American Rag wardrobe.

RAGGED Mag — the Cody Simpson issue — will hits stands at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide this September featuring the Simpson on the cover. The singer serves as editor-at-large, curating this issue that will include exclusive behind-the-scenes info and photography featuring Simpson.

Simpson boasts more than 6.8 million Twitter followers, more than 7.6 million Facebook likes and more than 197 million YouTube views. Simpson recently released “The Acoustic Sessions” EP, which features the hit single Surfboard and follows the release of his sophomore album, 2013’s “Surfers Paradise” that debuted TOP 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. Simpson also recently participated as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

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