NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue wants to be a retailer that rocks.The company is extending its charity drive into the holidays with a gift-giving promotion to benefit the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, setting up “Gifts that Give Back” shops in each of its 62 stores around the country this month. The shops will display exclusive products made by its vendors to benefit the charity, which raises funds and awareness for music programs aimed at America’s youth.Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Missoni and Burberry are among the companies that have developed products, which will be featured in an advertising campaign and in its holiday catalog, modeled by artists including Beyoncé Knowles, Jewel, Mya, Ashanti, Gloria Estefan, B.B. King and Sheryl Crow. The products and mechanical likenesses of the celebrities will also be incorporated into Saks’ annual holiday window display.“It really is a fully integrated program in its magnitude,” said Christina Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises. “We’ll be leveraging our corporate partnerships with American Express and Condé Nast to promote this program, and also working with a number of great vendors on exclusive products you won’t be able to find anywhere else.”Saks is putting a major emphasis on the synergistic aspects of the drive, dedicating in the neighborhood of $7 million to $8 million in advertising support for the campaign, which is being financially supported by American Express Blue. The campaign will appear as a 20-page insert in the November issues of Advance Publications’ titles Vanity Fair, Vogue and Lucky, as eight-page inserts in the November issues of GQ and Details, and as eight-page inserts in the December issues of The New Yorker, Jane, House & Garden and Self.The retailer has ordered more than $12 million in inventory for the shops, with a minimum order of 2,500 units, the first time such a promotion has been developed on a large scale that can be carried in each of the company’s stores. The store and charity have also partnered with 19 national cable affiliates, including Adelphia, Brighthouse Networks, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, for local “Shop Like Rock Star” events.If Saks reaches its goal of raising more than $1 million for the charity by donating one-third of sales directly to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, the charity would be able to donate $25,000 worth of musical instruments to each of 40 new schools, said Jennifer Lynch, director of development for the foundation.The campaign features a cast of rock and pop stars toting Longchamp totes or wrapped in Missoni scarves, pitching in for the charity with little restraint for product placement. For instance, Beyoncé, this season’s fashion show poster girl, is shown in one image with her Moschino “Diamonds are 4 Ever” watch ($198) held up to the camera, and in another, with a cotton canvas tote from Michael Kors ($170) slung across her arm.Mya is photographed with a crocodile-embossed Cole Haan purse ($150) over her shoulder or leaning on a box set of Estée Lauder lip gloss ($35). Even Jewel, who snubbed the fashion world and Kate Moss in her latest album, turns up in Burberry’s reversible nova check cotton bucket hat ($140) and kissing a puppy in a white terry cloth J’Adore Dior makeup bag $125.Burberry was so impressed with the connection to the charity that the company decided to launch its spring “candy checks” program with Saks, debuting the pink-and-ivory check version for this promotion.“That’s just a taste of things that will be coming in the future,” said Eugenia Ulasewicz, president of Burberry USA.Also available in the “Gifts that Give Back” shops will be a $148 red hooded jacket from Company Ellen Tracy, sterling silver cufflinks with mother-of-pearl insets from Dunhill at $165, a men’s black crewneck with sequins in the shape of a dragon for $95, a Marc by Marc Jacobs guitar print T-shirt for $78 and Jay Strongwater’s gold-plated miniframe necklace for $125.“Everyone saw the higher good of promoting the greater cause and raising funds for the children,” Lynch said. “This is a new partnership and a new concept. So many of the artists have been longtime supporters of the organization and this was a natural extension of who they are and their work.”Some of them even got an unexpected bonus, like Fuel frontman Brett Scallions, who presumably declined to personally model the $96 Natori French thong gift set. It is instead shown on Rachel Hunter, who hugs Scallions from behind.“I don’t think it’s every day that Brett Scallions gets to model with Rachel Hunter,” Lynch said.
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