Serkan and Yonca might be fictional characters, but the impact they’ve had on the Kanyon brand is real.
The Turkish mall created them early last year and placed them at the heart of a love story that shoppers could follow on a dedicated namesake blog. While they kept up with the latest gossip, as any TV soap opera fan would, followers got information on the latest culinary escapades, movies, retail promotions and activities happening at Kanyon, and a few exclusive surprises too.
“Serkanyonca.com is a blog project that was developed based on the fact that young people, the most frequent visitors to Kanyon, spend a lot of their time in the digital environment,” explained marketing director Cagla Gul and her team in their ICSC Solal Merit Award-winning submission.
This isn’t too surprising, considering that more than 75 percent of the center’s clientele is under the age of 35.
“As part of this project, the blog was updated by two virtual characters. Serkan and Yonca’s paths crossed for the first time at Kanyon, a place that they both visit regularly. Following this, through their stories appearing on [the blog, they] went on to share everything that they thought about Kanyon…And with the contests organized through this blog, a relationship has been established with online consumers, in the digital environment, and Kanyon’s existence among the social networks has been reinforced.”
Serkan and Yonca essentially became the spokespeople for the center and their names were chosen to reinforce the center’s brand. Take the last syllable of Serkan’s name and the first of Yonca’s, and you get Kanyon, a juxtaposition that the center enhanced visually on all its creative by highlighting the letters “kan” and “yon” in deep orange, enabling its name to really pop out. Kanyon also built both characters to act as promoters of specific retail categories.
Serkan is a technology enthusiast, movie lover, fan of Far Eastern cuisine and amateur photographer. Yonca is a professional and hobby shopper who has an enviable bag collection. She is apparently intent on staying fit, despite her inability to resist ice cream. So from fashion and accessories to F&B and electronics, these two characters have the mall’s merchant roster covered.
“Through these characters, new events, campaigns, opportunities and developments at Kanyon were shared with this [young] target group through the telling of stories in a genuine language that was familiar to them,” the promotional team explained.
“Realistic scenes similar to those in the target age groups’ real daily lives were used [and] an interactive relationship has been established by letting readers make comments on the blog. The project continued for one year and its content was published without any interruptions. Except for Sundays, content was shared every day of the week. The story in the blog was designed to last [that long] and the script was written with this in mind.”
Despite their fictional nature, Serkan and Yonca reached more than 1.8 million shoppers, with 81,528 of them becoming blog readers and posting 382 comments.
- SerkanYonca.com blog
- E-bulletins (24 units) sent to the center’s database of 85,000 customers featured a banner ad promoting the blog.
The Trendz Twist
Try merging this idea of a love story blog and the increasingly popular mall date/wedding contests.
Host a speed-dating event at your mall and find out which couples ended up forming. Then, pick five couples at random to follow. Ask them to share information about a few of their dates on a dedicated blog and build a Pinterest board with images of their top mall shopping and date spots. Shoppers can follow and comment on the budding romances, as well as become mall Facebook fans to vote for their favorite couple. The couple with the highest number of votes wins the ultimate date and shopping spree, courtesy of your mall retailers.
As always, make the most of the associated PR opportunity by working with your media contacts to get coverage and by posting your own reports on the mall’s YouTube channel.