Marshalls campaign a shoe-in

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Marshalls is putting its best foot forward with a multichannel marketing campaign highlighting a new, expanded shoe department.

Late last year, the off-price retail chain began converting the shoe departments inside its 750-plus stores to a new format that has a larger footprint and features lower fixtures so shoppers can see the shoes better.

"[Marshalls] isn't thought of as a shoe destination," said Amy Cafazzo, media relations supervisor at Marshalls. Marshalls is a division of TJX Companies Inc.

To promote the MegaShop, Marshalls is employing guerrilla marketing. Women in robes and high heels will be walk around city streets handing out shoe shine mitts. The mitts contain game pieces that seek to drive recipients to Marshalls stores for instant-prize games.

Previously, Marshalls typical shoe department was about 3,000 square feet. The new Shoe MegaShop averages 5,000 square feet and houses thousands more shoes than before. There are plans to convert more than 500 stores to the new format by the end of this year.

The game pieces inside the shoe shine mitts also feature the URL, www.shoemegashop.com, where customers can enter a sweepstakes and be eligible to win one ton of shoes. Once customers are on the Marshalls Web site, which is not e-commerce enabled, they can also take a virtual tour of the store and see the expanded shoe department.

The URL is also featured in direct mail and newspaper advertising. Direct mail is being used to promote MegaShop each time a new one opens with a drop to 21,000 households located near that particular store.

Previous Marshalls campaigns have had Web components, but this online effort "is bigger than we've ever done before," Cafazzo said.

Another way the campaign attempts to drive people to the site is with a giant red stiletto shoe that will be driving around each city where the promotion is taking place. Consumers can have a picture of themselves taken with the shoe and retrieve the photo online.

The promotion started in Washington on September 10. It then moves to Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta over a month's time.

Marshalls is also seeking to raise awareness of its shoe department, while simultaneously raising money for a good cause, by auctioning off shoes that have been donated and signed by celebrities. Shoes signed by such celebrities as Madonna, Regis Philbin, Jay-Z and Mariska Hargitay will be auctioned off through CharityFolks.com. The money raised, along with $1 per shoe purchased from October 18 to 24, will be donated to domestic violence shelters.

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