BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores here tied into the direct-to-video "Rugrats: Discover America" release from Paramount Home Entertainment, Hollywood, earlier this month with a multifaceted "retailtainment" event held chainwide.
The mass merchandiser co-partnered with New York-based Nickelodeon on the May 6 in-store premiere, which drew an estimated 126,000 children into 2,531 stores. "Rugrats: Discover America" spins a tale of how relatives of the animated Rugrats children travel around America and come back to tell the children about the landmarks and places they've seen. The event featured two showings of the 22-minute video, priced at $12.95, an in-store scavenger hunt centered on key landmarks from the video (Gateway Arch, Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone and Everglades National Parks) and a school educational program.
"We offered this as a retailtainment event that was fun but at the same time educational," said Elise Garner, a Wal-Mart spokesperson. "Retailtainment is a way for us to look at new and innovate ways to enhance the customer's shopping experience. It brings about excitement and community involvement," she added.
The event kicked off a month-long presentation of Rugrats' merchandise. Endcaps represented each of the six landmarks and contained Rugrats products, balloons and signage that showed a Rugrats character and a landmark. When children finished the in-store "scavenger hunt," they received "souvenirs" -- postcards and stickers picturing merchandise. "If they saw a Rugrats Gameboy and they wanted grandmom to get it, then they took the little Rugrats sticker off the card to mail it on a postcard to grandmom and say 'this is what I want,"' explained Garner. Co-sponsors involved in the Rugrats promotion, and those logos and products appearing on merchandise stickers included Oral-B, American Greetings and Mattel.
Although the video officially was released May 5 in all trade channels, Jennifer Levine, a Nickelodeon spokeswoman said they broke from the traditional Tuesday street date for most video releases because of the special promotion with Wal-Mart.
Garner said the event also demonstrated Wal-Mart's "outreach to the community. This allows us to maintain and continue to build relationships with our communities," she added. Galvanizing the community presence, Wal-Mart, along with Youth Media International, Easton, Conn., devised a program with lesson plans on map reading, travel planning, writing skills and exploring students' creativity and imagination. More than 2,000 lesson plans were distributed to schools around the country.