**Banana Republic Ad to Consumer: Beam Me Up!Seeking to boost holiday sales, apparel retailer Banana Republic is experimenting with new Streetbeam technology that allows users of Palm-based personal digital assistants to download information from ads placed on outdoor phone kiosks.
Starting Friday, consumers can download product and neighborhood store information by pointing personal digital assistants at 100 Banana Republic ads placed strategically at phone kiosks throughout Manhattan.
"It's another way for us to communicate with our customers," said Kim Sobel, New York-based senior communications manager at Banana Republic, a division of Gap Inc.
"It's quite a fun way to help people with their holiday shopping. We realize that technology plays a large part in our customers' lives, and we're always looking for ways to simplify the shopping experience."
Marrying the interactivity of the Web with outdoor advertising, the Streetbeam medium allows downloads through a strategically placed beaming device in the outdoor display ad flanking phone kiosks.
"The look and feel of the information we're providing [are] integrated with our Web site," Sobel said.
Pedestrians and passersby can point their hand-held devices such as the Palm Pilot, Visor and Handspring at icons on four different Banana Republic ads that flank the phone kiosks.
The ads include visuals of a dog with a cashmere glove in its mouth, a girl with a pink fur neck wrap, a man with snow on his face, and a man with a red scarf and cap.
Located in the right corners of these ads, the icons transmit information such as the nearest Banana Republic neighborhood location with phone numbers and addresses for Manhattan stores, as well as suggestions for holiday gift ideas.
The downloads include an overview of the "You shop, we drop" program, which allows customers to have their packages delivered in New York during the holidays, and a summary of the offers and rewards associated with the Banana Republic card.
Consumers can also beam this information to other Palm-based hand-held users.
"This is something that we're doing specifically for the holidays in New York," Sobel said. "At this point, we don't have any plans to necessarily take it further. This is something we're just trying out for now."
Sobel added that the information beamed to the hand-held devices also contained the pertinent Web addresses of the sites at www.bananarepublic.com and www.streetbeam.com, though consumers will not be able to link directly to the site.
The Streetbeam technology was introduced by TDI, the nation's largest transit display outdoor company owned by Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting, New York.
Streetbeam also is capable of beaming information to cell phones, yielding information on coupons and promotions, though Banana Republic is not exercising that option at the moment.
"This technology allows advertisers to interactively reach consumers out on the street where they actually make most of their purchases," said Dana McClintock, spokesman for Infinity. "The street is a very top-of-mind type of place to make your decisions."
Currently available only in New York, the Streetbeam medium counts Banana Republic as its first retail client with the potential of becoming a national customer.
"We hope this will take off and that we'll be able to work with other sponsors in other markets around the country," McClintock said.