WHEREHOUSE BREAKS BRANDING EFFORT: NO. 3 MUSIC RETAILER TO SPEND $25 MILLION FOR MULTIMEDIA ADS VIA COLBY EFFLER

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Wherehouse Music, sounding its horn as the nation's No. 3 music retailer, this week breaks its first branding campaign.

The estimated $25 million effort from agency Colby Effler & Partners, Santa Monica, Calif., uses humor to form an emotional connection with music customers.

In one spot, a masseuse listening to rap music via earphones pounds on her client to the tune of the energized beat.

In another, two slackers listen to reggae music when one decides to answer a bell repeatedly ringing in the apartment. He picks up the phone, but actually the doorbell is ringing.

IT HAPPENS

The ads are tagged "Life is what happens while you're listening to music," and will run on national cable programming such as MTV and VH1.

Print ads will run in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Vibe and other titles. Radio commercials will air in two dozen markets.

This summer, the chain rebranded 371 Blockbuster Music stores acquired last year (AA, June 14). The top two chains are Musicland/Sam Goody and Trans World Entertainment, with such outlets as Record Town, Camelot and The Wall.

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Rick Colby, agency president-executive creative director, said that while most sellers of music are known for low prices or selection, the Wherehouse's strength is its numerous neighborhood locations.

Although the chain is well-positioned to leverage its stores with its newly redesigned Web site, he said, research conducted by the agency indicated few music enthusiasts were purchasing products over the Internet.

In some states, he noted, the numbers of computer users were negligible, as were

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