Pepsi, Scooby Doo sign up for mall net

Promo entertainment will appear at 400 malls

NEW YORK — Recently announced National Mall Network, which will organize 400 of the country’s shopping malls as if they were network affiliates, has not only signed Pepsi-Cola to a multimillion-dollar contract as its first client but committed Turner’s Cartoon Network to a Halloween promotion featuring Warner Bros. character Scooby Doo.

NMN’s chairman and creator is International Creative Management founder Marvin Josephson, who, at 71, still presides as chairman of the talent agency’s parent company. The idea of stringing malls into a national medium came to him while reading about the crowd-drawing ploys used by mall operators to keep shoppers coming more often and staying longer.

“It occurred to me they were ripe for bringing in entertainment in the broadest sense,” Josephson said. He then cited last summer’s “Jurassic Park: The Lost World” as a hypothetical example. The Universal movie, which featured Mercedes’ new sport utility vehicle, prompted the talent veteran to comment: “It would have been a natural to bring Mercedes and Universal together with a mall exhibition or contest that, in each market, tied into local museums of natural history.”

As for using 400 major regional and super-regional malls, Josephson said they were selected to match the 211 designated marketing areas, or DMAs, that govern television. “We consider ourselves the network, providing programming, sales and support departments like research, and we consider each mall as an affiliate.”

In practice, however, New York-based NMN will hark back to the traveling road show — multiple road shows, in fact — as troupes blanket the country in service of major advertisers. Josephson, who said NMN is talking to “20 major national advertisers” in addition to Pepsi and Turner, called such “touring exhibits” remarkably efficient deliverers of the “experiential marketing everyone’s so fond of for breaking through the clutter on TV and even in print.”

The marketing heavies already enlisted by NMN include Bruce Kelley, former general manager of ad agency Lowe & Partners/SMS, as president and CEO; and Doug McMahon, former worldwide director at J. Walter Thompson, as exec VP and general manager.

Said Kelley of NMN’s mall mission: “If your marketing program has an element of entertainment, education or information, shoppers will stay with you for 10 to 15 minutes or longer, as opposed to the 15, 30 or 60 seconds they might give you for a TV commercial.”

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