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Talbots Introduces E-Commerce Site Through Ad Campaign

Specialty retailer and cataloger Talbots Inc. seeks to introduce talbots.com to female Internet shoppers with its first marketing push for the 5-month-old e-commerce site.

The $1 million newspaper and online campaign uses as its mascot Jane Jetson, George’s wife in the popular television cartoon series “The Jetsons.” Talbots hopes its target audience will identify with Jane’s broad appeal and shopping method.

“It’s about time that they invest heavily online because they are one of the last catalog players in the apparel market to do so,” said Evie Black Dykema, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

In the campaign, Jane’s picture is placed next to a headline, which reads: “Remember how she just pressed a button and got a complete outfit? Guess what? Introducing talbots.com.”

“The use of Jane Jetson accomplishes the goal of doing something a little different for Talbots and for our Web site,” said Bruce Prescott, senior vice president of direct marketing at Talbots. “What we liked about it was that it so perfectly represented the convenience of shopping for apparel online, so there was a nice synergy.”

Full-page and double-page color ads run April 27 through the end of May in 11 national daily newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle and The Boston Globe.

Banners with the same theme will appear on iVillage.com, Better Homes & Gardens’ bhg.com and northernlight.com.

Talbots has a strong customer presence in these media markets, which are highly wired with a large percentage of the population online, Prescott said.

“The strategy is to raise awareness of our new online shopping site and to do so in a way that is both fun and unexpected,” he said.

Based in Hingham, MA, the 53-year-old Talbots sells women’s apparel, footwear and accessories through 676 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and through 57 million catalogs that were mailed out, according to 1999 data.

To succeed on the Internet, Talbots must ensure for customers that the online experience matched that of the bricks-and-mortar stores, Forrester’s Dykema said. More importantly, the site should give customers another reason to visit.

Though it won’t release numbers, Talbots said sales through the new online store were incremental. A significant number of online customers were first-time Talbots shoppers.

“It is drawing new people to Talbots in and of itself,” Prescott said. “In addition to being a sales channel, the online store is also serving as an advertising vehicle for all of Talbots.”

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