uses puppets to promote customer service work

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Online footwear and apparel retailer launched an advertising campaign on March 18 using puppets to promote its approach to customer service.

The year-long effort, called “Zappets,” was created by Boston ad agency Mullen. It is the first initiative since Zappos named the Interpublic Group agency its creative AOR last year. The effort is also the company's first since it was bought by Amazon last July, for about $807 million.

The ads feature “Zappets,” puppets designed like actual employees, and focus on the interaction between Zappos' customer loyalty team and customers. Some spots use recordings of actual customer-employee calls.

“The idea is to focus on the three 'C's: clothing, customer service and culture,” said Michelle Thomas, brand marketing manager at “The puppets are fun and quirky and modeled after real employees.”

The initiative includes TV and online video ads. It also includes both video display ads and videos designed for social video sites. The campaign also includes e-mail, search and a catalog that drops at the end of April.

Historically, Zappos has not conducted much advertising, instead focusing on customer service to spur word-of-mouth. However, in 2008 the brand launched advertising campaigns to build awareness.

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