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Barneys lures mobile users with holiday scavenger hunt

November 14, 2012

Barneys Electric Holiday window

Department store Barneys New York is engaging consumers in its Electric Holiday campaign by giving away gift cards through a mobile scavenger hunt during which clues are sent out through Twitter and Instagram.

Barneys’ Twitter account @BarneysNY will begin to tweet clues today at 8:30 a.m. so that mobile users can find secret spots where “Mickey Messengers” are located. Mobile Twitter users are encouraged to interact with Barneys through the hashtag #ElectricHoliday and follow the retailer on Instagram to find out additional clues.

“Barneys is employing a two directional flow of marketing,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, Beverly Hills, CA. “This is part of a much broader movement in which brands are employing to go social as they are shifting away from spoon-feeding ads to the end user and instead finding creating ways to involve the purchasing party in marketing campaigns.

“Also, it draws shoppers toward continuing the flow and engaging with the brand,” she said. “By engaging shoppers with a social campaign, Barneys will get shoppers to socialize back with them.

“Many of the scavenger participants will post something about Barney’s Electric Holiday campaign on their social media profiles resulting in a massive amount of organic ads that will reach many thousands or millions of users.”

Ms. Lowy is not affiliated with Barneys, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Barneys did respond before press deadline.

Happening holiday
In August, Barneys announced its Electric Holiday campaign as a special holiday project with Walt Disney Co.

This holiday campaign includes a window with a moving art video featuring Minnie Mouse in the high-fashion world.

Electric Holiday Window

One of the scavenger hunt winners will receive two tickets to the window unveiling this evening.

Other winners will receive a mystery gift that includes a gift card with a value between $25 and $500.

Participants must tell the password “Electric Holiday” to the Mickey Messenger at each scavenger hunt spot.

The scavenger hunt clues will be sent out to mobile users of Twitter and Instagram at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon and 4 p.m.

Barneys Twitter

This contest will aid in Barneys promotions of its holiday window decorations and could attract more customers for the retailer.

“There is a fundamental difference between placing a glorious ad or an eye-catching window in front of a consumer and gaining a follower on a social media site,” Ms. Lowy said.

“The glorious ad or window will make the user stop and admire the exquisiteness of Barneys, but that touch point is fleeting and the passerby will continue to walk down Madison Avenue,” she said.

Mobile contest
Barneys is not the only luxury marketer to use mobile platforms to promote a contest.

Jewelers Tacori and Michael C. Fina are sending participants in the annual Diamond Dash charity event scavenger hunt clues via SMS and relying on the mobile messages to choose this year’s winner.

The third annual “Diamond Dash: Dash for a Diamond & a Cure” is being held today in New York to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In a departure this year, couples residing in all 50 U.S. states are eligible to participate (see story).

Also, Bloomingdale’s hosted an SMS contest with Microsoft that took place each day of the semi-annual “Hot” event Sept. 6-16.

Consumers could text “ITSON” to 51515 for the chance to win a Microsoft prize pack that included a Windows tablet, Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse and Keyboard, and Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 featuring OneNote (see story).

“Mobile is the perfect medium to connect with consumers because it allows users to quickly share their fashion inspirations with the brand on the go,” Ms. Lowy said.

“The scavenger hunt is part of a much bigger project opening the door for users to interact and socialize with the brand via mobile,” she said.

Final take
Erin Shea, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily

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Erin Shea is an editorial assistant on Luxury Daily. Her beats are apparel and accessories, government, home furnishings, legal and privacy, nonprofits and retail. Reach her at

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