Zappos is partnering with NBCU's iVillage to reach moms during the back-to-school season. The online retailer is the sole sponsor of iVillage's "Back-to-School Community Challenge," which will award $3,000 worth of Zappos shopping sprees over the next month while doling out fashion and coping advice for the season.
Moms who sign up for the program will receive daily e-mail tips on sending their children to school, ranging from easing first-day anxiety to maintaining family schedules to making smart clothing purchases. The tips will come from iVillage's in-house life coaches, including mom bloggers Amanda Rodriguez, Beth Engelman and Sharon Rowley, as well as Jim Higley, single father, cancer survivor and author of Bobblehead Dad: 25 Lessons I Forgot I Knew.
"The tips are really focused on time-management," said Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, SVP of marketing for iVillage, "because our community members tell us that’s really one of their big challenges."
The site will also be awarding one $500 Zappos shopping spree to a community member each week, as well a $1000 shopping spree in the final week. Winners will be picked at random from those who sign up for the daily tip e-mails.
Still known primarily as a shoe retailer, Zappos has been expanding its inventory in recent years to include clothes and accessories, including backpacks and other typical back-to-school items. Balsam-Schwaber said the sponsorship will help them spread the word about those offerings to a receptive audience.
"We know from our community that the back-to-school time is a high stress time and that women are really longing for ways to get their family back into a routine," she said. "So working with Zappos was a perfect opportunity. They’re widely expanding their product offering and making themselves a solution for back-to-school products."
As the sole sponsor of the promotion, Zappos has multiple display ads and branding on the home page for the promotion, as well as in the daily e-mails providing tips to community members. Some of those ads link directly to the kids' section of Zappos' site.
The Back-to-School Community Challenge is just one in a series of community challenges that iVillage uses to connect with its audience. Other challenges include the Mealtime Makeover Community Challenge, which encourages women to eat healthier, and the PBS Kids Summer Reading Community Challenge, which helped women motivate their children to read when not in school.
"The great things about the challenges is they’re a great vehicle for many of our partners and they capitalize on the strength of iVillage, creating a bridge between our audience and our advertisers," said Balsam-Schwaber.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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