MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Marketing stunt drives big traffic to Make Meaning

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — A marketing stunt ended up driving hundreds of visitors to entertainment and events retailer Make Meaning’s location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Inspired by the creativity of the infamous and elusive guerilla street artist Banksy, whose handiwork has been popping up around New York City for the past month, the CEO and CMO of Make Meaning arranged for renowned New York street artist Alex Gardega to spray paint the façade of the building with a Banksy-esque silhouette in the middle of the night.

Dubbed "Fishing for Time" as a nod to the retailer’s mission to provide a fun and creative environment to enjoy quality family time, the Alice-In-Wonderland inspired piece debuted in the early hours, and instantly sent hundreds of people to the storefront, taking photographs and posting their find online, where an intense debate ensued around the validity of the piece.
The piece also paid tribute to the NYC landmark "Yorkville Clock" which stands in front of Make Meaning. Excited viewers tweeted and posted that the clock was set to 5:00 PM, which was the time of Banksy’s scheduled reveal, which for some confirmed that this was in fact Banksy’s latest piece.

"What started as a fun experiment quickly became a huge moment in guerilla marketing inspired by a guerilla artist," said Amy Kotulski, CMO of Make Meaning, who also arranged a security team to add extra credibility to the scene, and was later actually used to maintain crowd control.

CEO Dan Nissanoff was overwhelmed by the response, which became an immediate viral hit on Facebook and Instagram, and an all-day frenzy ensued as tourists and locals demanded access and entrance to the store.

"Retailers will use their windows to attract customers and evolve seasonally, but they usually don’t consider what an impact their facade can make on the public until they make a change,” he said. “As a creativity-based destination which is uniquely experiential, it seems totally appropriate to communicate to consumers and our community in such a fearless and dynamic way."

Due to the enormity of the feedback and excitement from the public, Make Meaning plans to create evolving murals on their facade in the upcoming months.


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OPERATIONS

NRF exec chairs new benefits coalition

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – A broad-based group of organizations including large and small employers, pharmacy benefit managers, providers, health benefits advisers and health plans from across the country have launched the Affordable Health Benefits Coalition (AHBC). The Coalition’s main priority is advancing policy ideas that it says will help people obtain more affordable health coverage.

The newly-formed AHBC is chaired by National Retail Federation (NRF) VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein and directed by Stacey Rampy, a principal at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. The Coalition is advancing a number of policy priorities including:

  • Balancing the often competing priorities of affordability and benefit design in future consideration of essential health benefits;
  • Ensuring flexibility for employers and health plans in benefit package designs including high value provider networks and cost-sharing; and
  • Adopting additional means to promote continuous coverage.

“The Affordable Health Benefits Coalition seeks to focus the health care debate on the affordability of health care coverage,” Trautwein said. “The AHBC will promote regulations and non-partisan policies that improve the affordability of coverage and care.”

The Coalition includes a wide variety of members including: NRF, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), American Rental Association (ARA), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR), Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), American Supply Association (ASA) and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC).

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REAL ESTATE

Report: Developer says West Monroe, La., will get shopping center

BY Dan Berthiaume

West Monroe, La. – Real estate developer Gerard Thibodeaux reportedly said that he expects West Monroe, La. to have a long-planned retail shopping center built in the next several years. According to the Monroe News Star, Thibodeaux said a study shows the West Monroe/Monroe trade region, which includes parts of Arkansas and Mississippi, offers 300,000 consumers.

The city of West Monroe reportedly has a list of potential retailers for an anchor store and would prefer a department store/apparel retailer as the anchor. It is estimated the center would generate $100 million in annual retail sales and contribute $2.5 million to the city budget each year.

West Monroe has about 500,000 sq. ft. of retail space available, which Thibodeaux said would require the center to be constructed in several phases. The center would also include a lifestyle center offering non-shopping activities.

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