Macy’s Walks ‘Ragged Road’

A reality show without a showdown, where no players get booted off? Indeed, Macy’s appears to have abandoned these reality TV essentials in a forthcoming online video promotion for its five-year-old American Rag brand.

Instead, a series of documentary Webisodes will follow the lives of five young people who want to break into the music business.

The series, “Ragged Road,” launches in the fall. WPP Group-owned MEC Entertainment developed the show, which will play on YouTube.

Nancy Slavin, svp of marketing at Macy’s merchandising group, said this marks a first for the brand in “doing something wholly dedicated to a communications strategy on the Web.”

The clothing label targets 18-24 year-old males and females. Since popular music is one of the primary passions of the target demo, MEC created a documentary-style 10-episode Web series tracking the lives of these young people as they tour the country on a bus.

“There’s a lot of people who want to get into the music industry, but don’t know how to go about it. So, we said, let’s find five people who have a passion for the business and want to see what the career opportunities are and what different paths there are to get into the music industry,” said Chet Fenster, managing partner at MEC.

The five music business wannabes will be announced later this week. MEC created a contest in the form of a casting call that was advertised online in partnership with Facebook, on 12 college campuses, at the South by Southwest Music Festival and in Macy’s stores around the country. Those interested auditioned in person or uploaded videos.

The five cast members wil tour the U.S. this summer, and they will be meeting with “everyone from the curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to someone who runs a label, to someone who books bands in a particular city. Not everyone wants to be on American Idol,” Fenster said.

All five cast members will be wearing American Rag clothing. They will also be given the opportunity to shop for the brand as they travel across the country. For YouTube users interested in buying the clothes, the Macy’s site will serve as a shopping portal.

Slavin noted that the Web series is highly measurable and that the brand will be monitoring YouTube closely to see who is watching and to see how viral Ragged Road becomes. She added that there are other places Macy’s plans to buy media, though further details were unavailable.