Wal-Mart Tempts Teens With The Hub

Posted on July 18, 2006

The HubWal-Mart has launched The Hub (School Your Way), which is a contest and social network type of site. The site also features Wal-Mart fashions. The three giant pencils at the top of the page immediately reduce the site's potential. The FAQ explains some of the things kids can do on the site.
WHAT KIND OF PRIZES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
We're talking awesome Sony stuff from laptops to High Def Camcorders and all the gear that comes with them! We've also got another prize package that will really give you the celeb treatment: A trip for 2 to LA that includes spending money and a chance to meet some pretty impressive people in the industry of your choice!

SERIOUSLY?!
It's the real deal, guys, these prizes are out of control! All you have to do is make a page or submit a video clip to get your chance to win!

WHO'S BEHIND THIS GENIUS WEB DESTINATION?
The guys from Wal-Mart and Sony teamed up to bring you all the sweet stuff you'll find on the HUB!
Woah! An Ad Age article says the site may be too unhip to impress teens. They briefly describe the content on the site.
The opening page shows video of four teens -- a bubbly fashionista, a Texas football player, a quirky skateboarder and an aspiring R&B singer from New York -- who are clearly actors reading a script, although the videos are positioned to appear authentic. Within, there are pages such as "Beth's Backyard Club," where you find a picture of her in a strapless prom dress above the approved quote: "I'll school my way by looking hot in my Wal-Mart clothes to school to catch a cute boy's eye. ..."
The Ad Age article also quotes a couple of very unimpressed kids.
The site is an attempt at closing the trend gap Wal-Mart now faces as Target wins more teen-apparel dollars. But if Wal-Mart thought it could win over Amy Kandel, 14, of Columbus, Ohio, it was wrong. "Some of the kids looked like they were trying to be supercool, but they weren't at all, and they were just being kind of weird," she said. "Are these real kids?"

Nor did it impress Pete Hughes, 18. "It just seemed kind of corny to me," he said.
The site does sound a little too self-aware for today's tech-savvy youth but it might work for preteens -- the tween demographic. And prizes generally do get people to submit content even if they may not be completely enamored with the website. However, will this site really help Wal-Mart improve its image with teenagers or would they be better off with an advertising campaign on hip blogs and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook?