A Gleek invasion is coming to a mall near you.
Claire's retail chain, a haven for trendy high school girls, plans to roll out an exclusive line of jewelry, accessories and other merchandise based on Glee, the hit Fox musical dramedy, along with pop-up shops in three major cities and mall-based karaoke contests and viewing parties.
The marketer also will remake its logo for the first time in 40-plus years to include the hand sign for the letter L—as in, loser—that's part of the Glee title.
"Glee has the kind of dedicated fan base that's really rare," said Norm Yustin, Claire's global CMO. "Those fans are a great fit with the Claire's fan, and we wanted to share with them the fun and self-expression that's core to the show."
Another mall retailer, Macy's, has launched Glee-themed apparel to generate buzz and foot traffic for the key back-to-school selling season. The department store created a program that gives Glee mobile content to buyers of the hoodies, T-shirts and other types of clothing. Display windows hype the Glee boutiques-within-stores, and an extensive online campaign steers teens and tweens to the merchandise.
Claire's pop-up stores launch Sept. 3 in malls in Chicago and suburban New York and Los Angeles, where charm bracelets with hunky characters Finn and Puck, makeup for cheerleader Quinn's flawless look, and Don't Stop Believing backpacks will be on sale. The locations will be decked out with lockers, a piano and other vestiges of McKinley High, where the fictional series is set.
A week after the pop-ups open, Glee products will go into 1,500 Claire's stores, which will tout the connection to the Emmy-nominated show in all its front windows and through online campaigns.
"We were looking for a retail partner that not only fit the Glee demographic and could translate the show into product, but also would go above and beyond in co-marketing with us to create a real Glee event," said Pam Kunick-Cohen, svp at 20th Century Fox Consumer Products. "We think there's so much innovation in what Claire's is doing. They've just been extraordinarily creative."
Kunick-Cohen called it "unprecedented" for a retailer to redesign its own logo around an entertainment tie-in. "This is much more significant than just rolling out some Glee merchandise," she said.
Claire's has worked with Hollywood before, stepping up its involvement over the past year and a half with the feature films Fame and Alice in Wonderland. For the latter, the chain opened its first themed pop-up shop, in London earlier this year, and saw such success with it that executives were on the lookout for another potential hit. The partnership with Glee was tailor-made for the chain, Yustin said.
General Growth Properties, a third partner in the Fox/Claire's deal, will plaster Glee images around its malls and point fans to Claire's.
The monthlong promotion will feature an event stage in the Glendale Galleria just outside Hollywood, where there will be karaoke contests and fan activities. A viewing party for the second season premiere will take place on the mall's roof on Sept. 21. A national contest will send winners to that party, with VIP treatment. The marketer will be gathering video of the whole process, planning to release snippets of the behind-the-scenes story of the pop-up shops and fan reaction via its Web site.