Although it doesn't include Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones or even Hannah Montana, a national tour featuring some names that are just as recognizable is set to appear at a mall near you.

Automakers, consumer electronics companies, health and beauty aids manufacturers are just a few of the categories whose brands will be part of the Oh! Zone tour — a platform that Clear Channel Malls is billing as “total immersion marketing.” Through the program, customers visiting participating malls will be surrounded by images, videos and announcements as well as actual products that customers can touch and interact with.

The mall tour has potential exposure of more than 1,400,000 brand impressions and could engage over 50,000 consumers, according to Clear Channel. The 20-foot by 30-foot traveling exhibit houses a bank of personal computer stations where marketers or their representatives can survey customers either through direct interviews or computerized surveys.

Through one-on-one interviews participating marketers can glean valuable insight about a product from prospective customers along the tour to help them develop more effective marketing campaigns, says Chris Cockerill, vice president of sales and marketing for Clear Channel Malls.

“It's a good place for marketers to find out about consumers' preferences for their products,” says Cockerill. “It's designed to gain valuable insight about what they think of the product and how predisposed they are to buying the product.”

For the past 18 months the exhibit toured Canada where LG Electronics was a client. A major player in the flat-panel display market, the South Korea-based electronics manufacturer, LG, recently announced its first 32-inch plasma TV would be available this month in 27 countries, including those in North America, citing data that indicates it's seen as an affordable alternative for buyers wanting plasma TVs in nations where LCD TVs are dominant.

In addition to raising product and brand awareness, the Oh! Zone tour also serves as a vehicle for national marketers to generate leads, acquire new customers and distribute coupons to drive traffic to their retail locations. For mall owners hosting the tour it can generate income, bring new shoppers into the property and encourage repeat visits. Invitations to participate in the interactive marketing tour are e-mailed to customers.

Set to begin its U.S. tour in March 2008, launching in the Northeast, the yearlong Oh! Zone tour is scheduled to stop in each of the top 10 markets across the U.S., spending two to three days at a shopping center, for a total of up to 50 days in each geographic region. After stops at malls in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, it's tentatively scheduled to hit the West Coast, then Midwest followed by the Southwest. Two-thirds of the malls scheduled to host the tour have mall advertising contracts with Clear Channel. The cost for marketers is $175,000 each per region, plus a minimum of $10,000 in discounts, samples or giveaways.

Touch Me

DT Research unveiled its interactive digital touch-screen system that can be used simultaneously across various retail applications. The system can be used for advertising, customer education and interactive directories at shopping centers. The large screen system employs an infrared touch-screen option on 37-inch LCD displays that can be activated in zones or to encompass the entire display. The applications can also be deployed remotely, to multiple systems anywhere in the world.

Green Scholar

ICSC has named Jerry Yudelson, principal of Yudelson Associates in Tucson, Ariz., as its first research scholar. Yudelson, who will hold the post for two years, will focus on retail real estate and environmental sustainability. The research scholar program was created to provide members with timely information on specific topics affecting the industry. Yudelson will also serve as a resource for ICSC members. He will collaborate with ICSC's research department to publish books and articles and serve as a speaker at meetings and its conferences. “Jerry Yudelson is a leading authority on sustainability and as the retail real estate industry embraces green building practices it will be extremely beneficial to have Mr. Yudelson educating our industry,” says Michael Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research.

Target Tesco

Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, received a cold reception from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in San Diego. Dressed as minutemen and women, union members kicked off a campaign protesting the retailer's entry into the U.S. market at an industry conference held at the San Diego Convention Center. Tesco has announced plans to spend $2 billion over the next five years to open 300 small-format grocery stores in the Southwest. “I believe they intend to saturate the marketplace and use their monopoly power to drive small and medium-size stores out of business much like Wal-Mart does,” says Local 135 union president Mickey Kasparian. The union pledged to work to ensure that Tesco provides a living wage and affordable health benefits to its employees. It also says it will talk to Tesco officials about opening stores in underserved areas and locations that will most benefit local communities.

DDR Island Card

Developers Diversified Realty introduced a single gift card to be used at all 15 of its shopping centers in Puerto Rico. The Beachwood, Ohio-based owner's Isla Gift Cards will be the only gift card accepted at the more than 600 retailers located at the centers. The goal of introducing the Isla Gift Card was to bring all of Developers Diversified's centers in Puerto Rico under a single umbrella. In conjunction with the card's launch, the company has rebranded all 15 of the properties to include “Isla” in their names. The firm has launched a marketing campaign to inform Puerto Rico residents of the switch. Developers Diversified is selling the gift card at kiosks at the some of the centers. And consumers can also buy the cards online or over the phone.