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Borders Books & Music, gearing up its marketing for the critical holiday selling season, this week launches a 104-spot ad campaign that mixes branding with co-op to promote the store's atmosphere as well as specific products.

The estimated $10 million effort will run on national cable TV with radio and print ads supporting. Co-op advertising money from book publishers also will be used to support the campaign.


The humorous TV commercials, filmed in b&w, are set in stores and present vignettes featuring store employees and customers. The campaign is themed "Come Inside."

It's the first work for Borders from Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif., which won the account in June. Perich & Partners, Ann Arbor, Mich., is the previous agency.

"We realize customers want more experience for their time," said Sarah Thornton, Borders' director of advertising. "It's as much about share of time as it is about share of book sales."

Butler Shine President Greg Stern said the spots are intended to spotlight the stores' atmosphere, which "encourages relaxing, reading and 'stack surfing.' "

Competitors have begun to poke fun at Borders' coffee shop and place-to-relax-away-from-home approach.


Crown Books, via agency DeVito/Verdi, New York, last month launched a TV spot that shows a man shaking while he examines a book. "Maybe the reason the other bookstores serve you so much coffee is because they don't want you to see the price," voice-over says.

In Borders' new ads, one spot promotes the store's ornithology collection. A young man ogling exotic mating habits of certain birds, makes a sideways comment to his wife, but realizes she has walked from his side. He discovers he's made the comment to an elderly woman who is now next to him.

In a spot for a U2 tape, a man described as a former rock star with a group called "You Too" complains about his career being ruined by the other group.

The holiday selling season is critical for Borders as well as its competitors:

The chains realize about a third of their annual sales in the fourth quarter. In the past, territory was a major factor in bookstore sales, but the growth of the big chains finds each expanding into the others' traditional markets. That makes for stiffer competition.


Borders Group is the second-largest book retailer in the U.S., after Barnes & Noble. Other competitors include Crown Books as well as growing online enterprises such as

Borders is expected to launch an online selling site by the end of the year, while Barnes & Noble has signed a deal with Microsoft Corp. that backs its online selling site to 2.5 million consumers a month.

The deal, announced last month, makes Barnes & Noble the exclusive online bookseller on MSNBC, Microsoft Investor and Expedia. It also has deals with the New York Times Online and America Online, among others.

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