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Disney Conjures Up Pact with Sears, Selena Gomez

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Disney Media Sales and Marketing is whipping up a little back-to-school magic, crafting a multiplatform sweepstakes/sponsorship deal with retail giant Sears.
 
As part of an effort to inspire ‘tweens to arrive in style on their first day of classes, the Disney sales team has linked Sears with contract player Selena Gomez, star of the Disney Channel original series Wizards of Waverly Place.
 
At the core of the on-air effort is a 45-second “Rock the Red Carpet” spot designed to send viewers to Sears’ dedicated ArriveLounge.com sweepstakes site. The ad features Gomez and two school-age chums, all dudded up in Sears fashions and traipsing their way into a movie premiere.   
 
After spelling out the spoils––the grand prize is a chance to hang with Gomez at a real Hollywood red carpet event––the sweepstakes spot closes with a quick reminder to watch the star on Wizards. The contest runs through August 23.
 
The retailer also will be featured in a flight of 15-second sponsor messages leading up to the August 28 premiere of Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, Disney’s 77th original made-for-TV feature.
 
In keeping with the terms of the Mouse’s affiliate deals, the spots aren’t explicitly commercial in nature. For example, in one spot, as Gomez plays air drums in a high school corridor, a voiceover informs viewers that Sears is “a proud sponsor of Disney Channel, where kids are encouraged to express their style … and arrive with confidence.” The spot closes with a call-out to the ArriveLounge.com site.

Similar executions will air during upcoming episodes of WoWP. The deal marks the first time Sears has sponsored the linear network. Per Nielsen, the retailer invested $410 million in measured media last year.

Because Disney Channel doesn’t traffic in traditional 30-second spots, the digital platforms are charged with doing much of the heavy lifting. At the same time, the brief sponsor messages may function as unobstructed gateways to a more immersive user experience. “Our partners enjoy the most uncluttered environment in the kids space, because they don’t have to compete against all those other 30-second spots in rotation,” said Kara Rousseau, senior vp of ad sales marketing, Disney Media Sales and Marketing. “Part of what they’re buy into is that exclusivity ... While they’re also getting the full support of our other platforms.”

As August winds down, Sears continues to receive promotional consideration on Radio Disney. In a pair of 30-second advertorials, Gomez will offer listeners tips on how Sears can help them reboot their wardrobe before the first homeroom bell rings. As a further incentive to shop, the retailer is offering Radio Disney listeners $25 gift cards.
 
Earlier this month, Sears sponsored Radio Disney’s world-premiere broadcast of the WoWP soundtrack.

Last year, Disney Channel took in $1.18 billion in total net revenue, per SNL Kagan data. Of that, affiliate sales made up the lion’s share ($988.5 million).

Gomez’ participation in Sears’ back-to-school efforts includes a second sweepstakes, one that is unaffiliated with Disney Channel. On August 3, the 17-year-old actress began appearing in spots for the Sears Air Band Casting Call, a teen-targeted initiative offering viewers a shot at performing on the MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 13.