By  on October 10, 2007

How can a quickly growing but little-known retailer get attention? For Hot Topic spin-off Metropark, the answer was go where the kids are.

Meez, which makes avatars, or graphical characters Web surfers can use to represent themselves on blogs and sites such as MySpace, caught Metropark's eye because of its fast growth.

Meez created virtual versions of Metropark's clothes, at no charge to the City of Industry, Calif.-based retailer. For about two months starting in May, Meez users could dress their avatars in virtual versions of a dozen shirts, dresses and jackets from Metropark stores. The boutiques, which have a nightclub-y vibe and appeal to men and women in their 20s, carry well-known contemporary brands such as True Religion, Rock & Republic and Harajuku Lovers. The Metropark executive team includes veterans from Hot Topic and Bebe.

In turn, Metropark promoted Meez on its Web site and on plasma screens located in its 39 U.S. stores. The event took about two weeks to plan.

As expected, the promotion didn't do much to boost Metropark's online revenues, which at $1 million represent only 1 percent of company sales, said Metropark chief executive officer Robert Allison. But it did create awareness of the brand.

The event generated more than 100,000 "brand interactions" — that is, more than 100,000 unique visitors saved a Metropark-branded item on Meez. It also sent about 400 visitors to Metropark's site each day, or about 1 percent of traffic. And Metropark's virtual clothes popped up on numerous sites across the Web, including MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.

"We feel really good that we got to promote the Metropark brand across a really broad range of Meez users," said Allison. "It could have far-reaching effects. We thought it was a very interesting way to reach customers."

Metropark probably will do another Meez promotion next year, after it opens a dozen more stores during the holidays, he said.

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