The Salt Lake City-based IBN is aiming to make a name for itself in the burgeoning world of shopper marketing and will bear the costs of the multimillion-dollar in-store marketing system of LCD screens in the 241-location drugstore chain.
"We want to get out there in front of the agencies, and they are right there in NYC, and they live a different lifestyle and don't necessarily go grocery shopping," said Lon Von Hurwitz, exec VP of business development at IBN, which is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar in-store advertising-network rollout with Kroger Co., where it is also bearing the costs of installing the network.
Cutting through the clutter
But is Duane Reade, described by New York magazine as having "achieved a ubiquity once limited to cabs and pigeons" in Manhattan, the best place for marketers to pipe in branding messages? In New York, a media environment at least as cluttered as a Duane Reade aisle, is this the kind of store where those messages will stand out?
"They may not all look 100% clean like a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's, but it's an environment New Yorkers are accustomed to," said Norm Chait, VP-director of out-of-home at MediaVest USA, adding that the subway gets plenty of ad money and "isn't exactly the cleanest place in the world."
Not for everyone
But just as some draw clear lines on where out-of-home ads go -- few food retailers want an ad inside a restroom -- luxury and high-end brands likely will steer clear of advertising on IBN's network in Duane Reade.
"But the packaged-goods brands and the HBC [health and beauty care] brands -- there's a reason they do business with that chain," Mr. Chait said. "They are a high-volume retailer, and there's a reason to support their brand in the store."
At Duane Reade, IBN will focus first on installing its network at newly remodeled stores, including locations at Times Square, 52nd Street and Park Avenue, and 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.
'The perfect showcase'
Mr. Von Hurwitz said the odd shapes and sizes of the chain's stores, which can vary dramatically depending on location, are seen as an advantage.
"You know that old song, 'If we can make it there, you can make it anywhere'?" he asked. "With all those pillars, you have some natural places to put screens, and you can fill in what is otherwise unused space, even on a corner wall. In modern stores, you don't really have that unused space. We have a shot here with Duane Reade to experiment."
IBN wants to cut its teeth in the drugstore retail and convenience-store space, then expand its in-store marketing to other chains.
"From there, it's a way to sell through to Walgreens and CVS," Mr. Von Hurwitz said. "We are looking at this as the perfect showcase because not every retailer is ready to make the plunge into retail media."
IBN, which for years has managed in-store radio networks, has been branching out in recent years into create in-store broadcast networks, competing against the other major player in this space, Premiere Retail Networks, the company that runs Wal-Mart TV.