As part of its Super Bowl marketing hoopla, Mitchell Modell, the CEO of Modell's Sporting Goods, appears as an avatar in the retailer's Time Square flagship store. The digital image welcomes, thanks, informs and engages customers.
The "Virtual Mitchell Modell" employs technology from Tensator, which gained attention back in 2011 when it brought a "Virtual Assistant" to Duane Reade's Wall Street megatore, the first reported use of such digital technology at retail. Tensator also just introduced two Virtual Assistants — both named "Louise" and wearing a full Heathrow security uniform — to check points at Heathrow Airport.
With its interactive push button panel, the "Virtual Mitchell Modell" suggests Super Bowl gear, shares information on the store's merchandise mix, informs customers about the store's loyalty program, and provides directions on where to find certain items. He invites shoppers to provide their e-mail addresses upon checkout for up-to-date information on sales and invitations to special events, including celebrity appearances.
In the course of over seven different scripts, customers are thanked often, asked to e-mail Mr. Modell directly to share their in-store experiences, and reminded of Modell's tagline, "You Gotta Go to Mo's!" On the heavily tourist-trafficked street, shoppers are able to access the information in 10 different languages besides English.
"The Tensator Virtual Assistant takes digital signage to a whole new, personalized level," said Lynn LaRocca, senior vice president, marketing at Modell's Sporting Goods, in a statement. "Our Time Square store is regularly really busy — and with the added Super Bowl traffic, we needed a real attention grabber. It's fantastic to be able to capture the personality of Mitchell and have him be the one to guide, inform and connect with shoppers from all over the world as the face of the company and its brand."
What's the likelihood that virtual assistants will be fairly common at retail over the next two to three years?