Wal-Mart and JC Penny: Desparately Seeking Social Networking Without Actually Having One

by Marianne Richmond on July 17, 2006

AdAge announced today that Wal-Mart has launched their answer to MySpace, the Hub. The target is teens, who they call Hubsters. The Hubsters can put up a page, pictures, video and music and win "fab" prizes. Now how fab is that?

 Sound similar so far? Here’s the catch according to AdAge…Wal-Mart screens all the content, informs parents when kids join and members cannot email each other. If they do, maybe their punishment is shopping at Wal-Mart. The home page has video of some actors playing the parts of real teenagers. As AdAge said, "Seriously" {?} As the four teenagers at my house tonight said, "Are you kidding?" (OK, full disclosure: two of them are mine and only one said anything, the others just laughed.)

 JC Penny borrows a few ideas from MySpace also. Penney’s new advertising campaign, "You’ve Got It Inside" sends kids to their microsite,  They have profiles, but of the actors who are hawking clothes from their "closets." Penney’s has partners for this, which includes MTV so if the kids want to put up their profile, listen to music, or otherwise interact, they can do it on MTV.

I am not sure what research Wal-Mart, Penneys, or their agencies have been reading about teenagers BUT they might just want to check YPulse , Pew Internet, or the seven ways to make an impact with teens from the Y&R Brand Asset Valuator;or do a little research on your own by visiting MySpace or finding a teenager and talking to them face-to-face.

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