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HIGHLIGHTING SOME FRIENDS: J. Crew has found a unique way to drive traffic to its Web site: promote other online businesses. The company’s fall ads, which begin running in The New York Times Sunday Styles section this weekend, will shine a spotlight on some under-the-radar Web sites that offer what it deems cool, noncompeting products. “We like to edit and find things that are not big and famous,” said Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chief executive officer. “So we put together a list of our favorite Web sites that did other things and that we thought were creative. They’re small companies and they’re not out there as much as they deserve to be.”
The men’s ad, for example, gives shout-outs to the car company Silver Tears Campers, La Quercia meats and Kings County Distillery. “This is like editorial in a magazine,” Drexler said. “We wanted to share with our customers the things we love.” He added that now that Web browsing has become ubiquitous, this will set J. Crew apart. “Dot-com is a commodity today,” he said. “So we asked how we could become a bit more intelligent.”
The campaign was conceived in association with Andy Spade of Partners and Spade. “It’s like notes in a blog,” Spade said of the campaign. “It’s a print campaign that moves you toward the Web but you’re looking at it in a magazine.” On the J. Crew site, the ads will be more interactive. The campaign will be used first for Crew Cuts this Sunday and will follow with a men’s ad on Sept. 12 in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Details, GQ, Monocle and other niche publications. There will also be a holiday ad. In other J. Crew news, the retailer in November will introduce an exclusive selection of New Balance crossover sneakers into its mix. Frank Muytjens, men’s design director, said he had been searching the world to find the “perfect sneaker,” and found one in a retail store in Tokyo, ironically an American-made model from New Balance, the 1400. J. Crew will offer it in dark bottle green, navy and black. The shoes will retail for $130 and will hit 24 stores, the catalogue and online in November. It will be rolled out to 42 stores in February.
— Jean E. Palmieri