AMAZON SIGNS MIGI GIRLS AS WEDDING SECTION CELEBRITIES

Former 'Martha Stewart Living' Editors Add Content to Online Commerce

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NEW YORK -- In a strategy that mixes entertainment content into its commercial pages, Amazon.com has hired the MiGi Girls to host and expand its re-launched wedding registry section.
The MiGi Girls -- Michele Adams and Gia Russo -- are former 'Martha Stewart Living' eidtors and now hosts of the cable program 'The Art of the Party.'



The MiGi Girls are Michele Adams and Gia Russo, hosts of Fine Living cable's The Art of the Party. Formerly editors at Martha Stewart Living magazine, they started a design and lifestyle company in 1999 and have written Wedding Showers, Baby Showers and At Home With Friends, published by Chronicle Books.

'A great fit'

"Their experience in event planning, as authors and TV show hosts, make them a great fit with Amazon Wedding," said Kathy Savitt, vice president of strategic communications, content and initiatives at Amazon.com.

Amazon is hoping that the appeal of MiGi's online magazine-like content will help push prospects to stay longer on the site and register for products offered by the thousands of merchants supplying Amazon.

Pithy MiGi advice appears in the newly packaged Amazon wedding planning guides, where Ms. Adams and MS. Russo write about how to plan and pull-off the big day for the style-conscious but budget-aware contemporary couple. Appearing to be about the same age as the typical bride and groom, mid-20s to mid-30s, Ms. Adams and Ms. Russo write on themes such as how to make your own invitations, choosing a ceremony style and dealing with difficult family members. Links to products are embedded throughout.

Paris Hilton and Anna Kournikova

Amazon has also turned to celebrities to promote other areas of its store. Paris Hilton touts a jewelry collection, for example, and tennis star Anna Kournikova pushes a sports bra line. Amazon Theater, which aired in December, broadcasts videos of original short films that feature the site’s products. Over the 2004 holiday season, celebrity sessions were featured, such as a backstage rehearsal with REM.

The online wedding services and products category is crowded and competitive, with thousands of registries, and a handful of something-for-everyone portals like theknot.com and weddingchannel.com appear to dominate. Nielsen/NetRatings estimates that those two sites each logged about 1 million unique visitors in March. Amazon Wedding's traffic numbers are not available.

Online since 2002, Amazon Weddings recently has begun to use celebrities as a way to stand out and become the one-stop shop for the bride and groom to be.

Engaging consumers better

Most couples register on more than one site, said Patty Freeman Evans, an analyst at online market research firm Jupiter Research. "The presence of a celebrity broadens awareness and gives Amazon some credibility for providing information for a wedding. As the Wedding Channel and The Knot have found, the more engaged you keep the customer to find and manage her event, the higher value the registry might have," she said.

"Our goal is to be a one-stop shop for registry and content," added Amazon spokesperson Molly Ingle.

The major online wedding sites have long used branded entertainment strategies to keep in the public eye. TheKnot.com was approached by the NBC hit The Apprentice last season to be part of a segment about two competing Apprentice teams launching and marketing a bridal salon sample sale in 24 hours. One team marketed by e-mailing the 10 million active members of theknot.com in the New York City area.

The Knot's celebrity

The Knot features its own self-made celebrity, editor in chief Carley Roney, who has written books, puts out a syndicated newspaper column on Scripps-Howard and appears on Oprah and Today.

The Wedding Channel presents a group of well-known Los Angeles wedding and party experts, including etiquette expert Peggy Post, relative of the famous Emily.

The Amazon redesign, which went live April 12, includes 150 wedding-planning guides; encyclopedia-like descriptions that help the user differentiate among products (like what you should know about choosing a knife set); a databank of gift-givers with their addresses to expedite thank-you notes; and links to A9, Amazon's yellow pages of local brick-and-mortar stores. Graphic display ads appear in the margins.
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