September 30, 2003, 12:00 AM

Marshall Field’s welcomes yahoos to its State Street store

Last month, Yahoo became one of 500 new brands at Marshall Field’s showcase department store on Chicago’s State Street. In a 355-square-foot "Yahoo lounge," colored in the online company’s trademark yellow and purple, Yahoo will sell Yahoo-labeled hard goods as well as promote its online services.

People don’t usually associate the upscale Chicago department store Marshall Field’s with yahoos, which the dictionary describes as “a boorish, crass or stupid person.” But both Fields and Yahoo Inc,. the Internet services company, are hoping consumers will make that connection-and that it will pay off for both.

Last month, Yahoo became one of 500 new brands at Marshall Field’s showcase department store on Chicago’s State Street. In a 355-square-foot “Yahoo lounge,” colored in the online company’s trademark yellow and purple, Yahoo will sell Yahoo-labeled hard goods as well as promote its online services. Yahoo says the move is a way to promote its brand in a traditional retail setting, while Marshall Field’s, a unit of Target Corp., says the Yahoo-dedicated area will provide an entertaining service to customers as it jazzes up its store with additional products.

The Yahoo booth will offer multi-media presentations as well as computer kiosks where store customers can browse the Internet and learn about Yahoo’s online services. The area will be staffed by Yahoo-trained Marshall Field’s sales staff and will sell Yahoo-branded products including digital cameras, webcams, computer keyboards and speakers. Yahoo has been selling similar products since 2000 in stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid and Toys R Us, but Marshall Field’s is the first with a dedicated Yahoo lounge.

In addition, Field’s will turn over one of its valuable and popular street-side display windows, where passers-by will be able to view a live video display of the Yahoo lounge and a web page featuring a Yahoo online service. A street-side button will activate a recording of the Yahoo trademarked yodel.

Marshall Field’s says the connection with Yahoo complements its current drive to revamp its product line with new brands attractive to a broader audience, while Yahoo says it exposes Yahoo to a new group of customers. “We’re trying to showcase our online products in a traditional retail setting and extend our brand offline,” says Angela Crenshaw, senior licensing manager for Yahoo. She adds that Marshall Field’s, as a long-established department store popular with older generations, offers the opportunity for Yahoo to present its services to people who might not otherwise frequent an Internet cafe or a computer store. “The beauty of the marriage between Marshall Field’s and Yahoo is that we’re reaching the offline clientele that they have and they’re reaching our online clientele,” she says.

Yahoo will focus on a different online service in the store lounge each month, the first being its Launch digital music section on Yahoo.com. Subsequent months will focus on its Games on Demand broadband subscription service for computer games and its Yahooligans online educational section with products and resources for children, parents and teachers.

Marshall Field’s is planning to open additional boutiques in the Chicago store, including one for General Motors Showcase Cars. Marshall Field’s operates 62 stores in eight states. Neither Yahoo nor Marshall Field’s would say if they plan to open Yahoo lounges in additional stores.

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