Just in case you aren’t up on pop culture, don’t have little kids, or maybe just don’t care, Emma Roberts is the 16-year old star of Nickelodeon’s “Unfabulous” and she also happens to be Julia Roberts’ niece. And she’s the latest Nancy Drew.
Emma was in town for a meet and greet at our local mall with the `tween set, and since my 10 year old nephew thinks she’s hot, I took him to see her. What a mess! Not Emma, she’s adorable, although she definitely needs to eat something – I have floor lamps that weigh more than she does, but I digress.
Emma was supposed to be at the mall signing autographs from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. She didn’t arrive until 5:45, and by then the snaking line of 1500 anxious kids, combined with the screaming MCs from Radio Disney, and the less than stellar sound system that was turned up to 11, was enough to make anyone go insane. A few people did.
Mall management was no where to be seen. Aside from a handful of security guards and local police, the only “security” was a bunch of barely legal young women who walked around waving their handbags and screaming, “Emma’s not like going to like come out until you all like move back?” and “I mean it. She’s not coming out if you don’t like move?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard the word “like” used in a sentence I’d be able to buy beachfront condo in Maui. Like, no kidding.
Anyway, there was crowd of kids patiently standing where they were told to stand by security, when the handbag wavers placed huge bouquets of helium balloons directly in front of them, completely blocking their view of Emma. I asked if they had to put those balloons there – the kid’s couldn’t see. One of them replied, “Yes, we have to put them there because we don’t want you to be here. Move somewhere else.”
Well, Emma finally did come out and she smiled as she signed hundreds of posters. Good for her; bad for mall management. And bad for the stores that lost business that night because it was hard to get to their stores.
Talk about a missed opportunity!
This event was sponsored by Cotton, Incorporated. It featured “Nancy Drew and the Cotton Caper”, a “cotton-themed interactive mall experience" – kids got an activity book of clues and instructions to find answers hidden in a mall display; they could win a $100 mall gift certificate. Judging by the displays and the movie clips, Nancy is apparently a fashionista. Why weren’t the stores involved in the event?
Couldn’t an apparel retailer have featured “live mannequins” modeling the latest styles in their front windows? They always draw a crowd, and when one moves someone always screams, attracting even more people.
Couldn’t a retailer have sent an army of Emma/Nancy Drew look-a-likes out into the crowd to hand out “this day only” coupons?
Couldn’t a retailer have borrowed from the theme park play book and positioned associates armed with Polaroid or digital cameras in strategic locations near the concert entrance? After the associate takes your photo, he hands you a card that explains where to come to pick up your free photo after the event. On the back of the card is a money-saving coupon.
Couldn’t a retailer (you fill in the blank)?
Woulda, shoulda, coulda. There is always an opportunity to attract new customers, you just have to be willing to do whatever it takes to attract them. Piece o’ cake. And maybe an extra slice for Emma. The poor kid could stand to gain a few pounds.