As retailers struggle and post lackluster sales results, one of the most important things a shopping center owner or manager can do for its tenants is boost foot traffic any way it can. With that in mind, Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties developed a unique marketing campaign. Through its “Treat Yourself” campaign, the company has developed marketing materials and advertisements encouraging shoppers to do something nice for themselves whether that be taking in a movie, having an extra meal out or buying themselves a little present.

Part of the campaign's appeal is that marketing managers at individual properties can adapt the campaign to each center. That way, managers can highlight their center's well-known offerings or boast lesser-known aspects using the overarching theme. CBL rolled out the umbrella campaign in January and is expected to run it until 2010. Its creative and production cost $500,000. The collateral marketing materials selected at the local level by the mall marketing manager encompasses newspaper advertising, direct mail and in-mall signage using various themes including “Big Savings,” “A Little Retail Therapy” and “To Good Eats.”

“The program and various materials allow a marketing director to take an idea and adjust it to fit in a particular market,” says Shannon Gonzalez, regional marketing director for CBL & Associates, who oversees 14 centers in North and South Carolina. The demographic makeup of the regions in Gonzalez's territory vary widely, she says, ranging from suburban residential communities to military training bases. “What the marketing directors in my region have done is tailor the umbrella campaign to what's most effective in their respective markets.”

For example, in the family-oriented resort town of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Gonzalez says, the marketing director at CBL's Coastal Grand chose to spotlight the mall's strong roster of retailers that sell apparel for youths and teens. At the more than one-million-square-foot center, they customized the program with “Treat Yourself to Free Music,” which gives consumers who spend $75 or more at specialty apparel retailers within the mall three free music downloads and the chance to win an iPod.

Ready-to-wear

CBL & Associates devised the campaign after setting for itself a goal of developing a marketing strategy that could better define the more than 150 individual shopping centers in its 85-million-square-foot portfolio.

The idea, according to CBL & Associates' vice president of mall marketing Barb Faucette, was to come up with something that could be tailored to its properties and at the same time have a common theme. The company felt such a campaign would be more effective than a blanket advertising campaign rolled out across all its centers. The challenge, then, was to promote customized campaigns that take into account how CBL & Associates' centers are not only dispersed throughout non-metro markets in the United States but also that the residents and their needs are as diverse as the regions themselves.

As background, CBL engaged in two years of market research to come up with “Treat Yourself.” Among the research analyzed was a 2004 Leo Burnette Worldwide study titled “Miss Understood.” It revealed that 83 percent of women surveyed said they identify with advertising with which they can make an emotional connection.

With that insight, CBL worked with its agency of record, KMT Creative Group, in Chattanooga, to devise a corporate branding campaign that addresses “What Do Women Want?” The resultant “Treat Yourself” campaign includes compatible and interchangeable components and themes designed to enable CBL & Associates and its marketing directors to allocate resources more efficiently. CBL & Associates has produced a creative campaign that is both purposeful for the individual shopping center and at the same time is effective in reaching consumers across the entire portfolio, says Faucette. It identifies for the marketing manager “not only what is the best buy, but what is the most effective means to reach that target audience.”

CBL's campaign is not unique. Macerich Co. too, in its customizable marketing campaign “The Life of Style” tries to make an emotional connection with its shoppers. Its year-and-a-half-old campaign focuses on retail merchandise and connects shoppers with the items and experiences they can have at any Macerich property. “We realize that people making purchases and how they feel about their favorite items forms the emotional center of what we do,” says Traci Weber, senior vice president of brand planning for Macerich. “In ‘The Life of Style’ campaign, we focus on the emotional bonds that make up the shopping experience.”

Rather than focus on the Macerich brand, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based mall owner and operator created 60 ads that spotlight retailers at its nearly 100 centers. The print, radio and TV campaign by its ad agency, Panzano & Partners, allows the respective properties to select from among the numerous options. The campaign is featured in the spring and fall and during the holiday shopping season.

Still, CBL's campaign is notable for its breadth and depth. At the malls and shopping centers, “Treat Yourself” materials include back-lit ad panels, banners, door wraps and floor graphics. The external elements of the campaign include television, radio, print and newspaper advertising, direct mail, billboards and mass e-mails. For example, in Madison, Wis., the company's West Towne Mall sends new residents, whose homes are valued at more than $200,000, a postcard offering free $10 CBL Malls Gift Cards. The program's intent is to win new residents early to make West Towne Mall their destination for shopping. According to West Towne Mall's marketing director, 75 percent of the gift cards distributed have been redeemed at stores and restaurants in West Towne Mall.

Elsewhere, to endear itself with the military market in Fayetteville, N.C., Cross Creek Mall has introduced a novel program to augment the “Treat Yourself” campaign. The “Treat Yourself to Military Deals” offers specials to the enlisted and their families. The campaign was designed to cater to the residents in the market, 80 percent of whom, Gonzalez says, are associated with nearby military base Fort Bragg. Servicemen and women and their dependants are invited to stop by the mall's military Family Welcome Center to register for discounts and pick up coupons exclusive for them and their families.

Gonzalez says, “every one of my properties has taken the ‘Treat Yourself’ campaign to the next level.”

Acquiring e-mail addresses has been a focus of the campaign for CBL. Since January, it has bolstered its database of e-mail addresses by 32 percent through a “Treat Yourself to $20,000 in Retail Therapy Sweepstakes” that began in March. Using these addresses, CBL & Associates plans to identify customers based on their preferences and offer them personalized coupons, store promotions and retailer announcements of private special offers via the Internet. “This is a free medium for us and it's an excellent and immediate way to build a relationship,” says Faucette.

Holiday chic

Another component of the campaign for CBL is to bolster existing relationships with some of its suppliers. For example, Coca-Cola, which exclusively sells Coca-Cola brand beverages and snack foods at CBL food courts and vending machines, is being integrated into the upcoming “Treat Yourself” holiday ad campaign.

“Our intent is to save money with creative and production by establishing efficiencies through partnerships,” says Faucette. “The advertising program realized a savings of approximately $250,000.”

Coca-Cola will pay for the creative and production of its holiday collateral. For Coca-Cola, every holiday “Treat Yourself” photograph will include a Coca-Cola brand. The ads are to break in November and run into December. The benefit for Coca-Cola partnering with CBL for the seasonal campaign is to reinforce their brands among the shopping center operator's consumers.

CBL's high-traffic shopping centers are ideal locations for building brand preference, says Brian Potter, national account executive for Coca-Cola enterprises. “We believe the fourth-quarter ‘Treat Yourself’ campaign lends itself perfectly to reinforcing our product offerings.”

PROBLEM:

How do you increase the relevance of CBL & Associates Properties' shopping centers and their unique attributes in diverse and geographically disparate markets?

SOLUTION:

Marketing executives launched a “Treat Yourself” campaign to define and highlight respective properties and fulfill the needs of the varied consumers in those numerous markets.