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360-Degree Marketing Boosts ‘Prom Dress’

Discovery Communications is putting its new marketing muscle on display during this year’s “Say Yes to the Prom Dress” initiative.

A spinoff of TLC’s wedding-themed series Say Yes to the Dress, the prom program, now in its sixth year, provides dresses so that deserving young women can formally enjoy the big dance at the end of high school.

Discovery will highlight the 360-degree campaign it built for the prom promotion as part of its upfront presentation to advertisers; a press preview is set for March 28.

This year, TLC will air a 90-minute special on April 1, up from last year’s 60 minutes, showing host Monte Durham helping the young women at an event in Los Angeles select dresses, add accessories, fix their hair and apply makeup.

TLC and Macy’s, this year’s sponsor, expect to give away 2,000 dresses during the promotion.

A “Say Yes to the Prom “line of about 20 dresses, jewelry and accessories has also been licensed and is on sale in special prom stores-within-stores at Macy’s locations.

The effort is backed by the year-old One Discovery array of content and marketing capabilities, according to Keith Kazerman, Discovery’s group senior VP, client solutions.
The 360-degree promotion starts with the on-air special and includes Durham appearing in a series of 30-second prom tips covering how to accessorize, apply makeup and other prom advice. The tips also direct viewers to the website,

The website includes interactive videos of the “Say Yes” dresses, with links to the Macy’s website, where consumers can purchase the merchandise. “It’s very informative and there is a positive business outcome there for Macy’s,” Kazerman said.

In real life, the “Say Yes” prom dresses have been promoted in the windows of Macy’s stores, including its New York flagship in Herald Square.

Dress sales are performing better than expectations, Kazerman said. “Everyone is very pleased with how the merchandise is doing in the stores.”

“Say Yes to the Prom” has already held events for deserving young women in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, with events in Chicago and Silver Spring, Md., coming up.

At the events, the young women got to choose from among 2,000 donated Macy’s dresses, plus accessories including bags and shoes. Young men were outfitted with tuxedo rentals and accessories from Men’s Wearhouse.

Runway events in Los Angeles and New York also treat students to tailoring, hair styling and makeup, plus one-on-one advice from Durham and designer Betsey Johnson, who is also donating items. To cap the big day, participants will get to show off their prom looks on a red carpet.

Other companies donating to the program include Paul Mitchell, Jessica McClintock, George Worrell Style and Girly Go Garter. AT&T employees donate time to mentor the students.

“It’s really heartwarming to see these young adults get these dresses, interact with Monte Durham and have that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Kazerman said. “That’s what makes this special for us, Macy’s and the other participants. We’re driving business goals and giving back to the community.”