Yahoo! ShoppingVision Taps Teen Celebs for E-Commerce Promotion

Web portal Yahoo is making a play for the MTV “Total Request Live” set with a new streaming media feature showing pop stars shopping for clothes — and then offering users the chance to buy the same merchandise as their idols, online.

Beginning Monday, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo will stream footage — via its ShoppingVision media player — of pop stars Britney Spears and N’SYNC’s Justin Timberlake as they shop for clothes in New York and London. As the two try on merchandise or talk about their favorite designers, pictures of related products appear in the window, which users can click to initiate a purchase.

For instance, as Britney samples a belted cardigan at Bloomingdale’s, a similar piece appears linking to Banana Republic, a Yahoo e-commerce partner.

The streaming video is produced in conjunction with Pepsi Co. — which receives sponsorship signage on the player, and also streams a 1:30 version of its television spot starring Spears — and teen-focused incentive marketer YOUtopia.com, which also receives signage and additionally hosts the streams on its site.

Yahoo will also feature the celebrity couple’s clothes, autographed pictures, and so on, through a Pepsi-sponsored charity auction.

Yahoo is promoting the shopping tour and auction on its front page and with rich media ads throughout the portal that encourage users to “hit the mall with Britney.” Yahoo also will distribute a personal email from Spears, which invites recipients to participate in the event, to about five million members who have opted-in to receive such messages.

The effort isn’t a bid for your average teenyboppers, however. Instead, it’s aiming for teens with sizable disposable income, since Yahoo ShoppingVision’s streaming media delivery is more suited for broadband rather than dial-up. Furthermore, the items for sale and auction are not cheap: a Dolce and Gabbana T-shirt goes for $194, while offers for Timberlake’s autographed jeans has topped $1000, with just under a week left in bidding.

But Yahoo is betting that using celebrity status to appeal to cash-flush teens will pay off in the long run — not just to spotlight the portal’s e-commerce offerings, but also the kinds of advertising packages it can craft for marketers.

“Celebrity fashion is a huge driver of consumer purchasing decisions, and now for the first time, people can conveniently see what their favorite stars like, and then buy those products at the same time,” said Michael Landau, general merchandise manager at Yahoo Shopping. “This promotion really gives Yahoo shoppers and fans of Britney and Justin a behind-the-scenes look at hot trends and fashions, and demonstrates Yahoo’s ability to design creative marketing solutions for companies like Pepsi and YOUtopia.com.”

New “episodes” of the shopping tour will run every week until mid-July. Yahoo declined to disclose spending on the effort.

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