Dove and iVillage Draw Unexpected Crowd With Afternoon of Free Chocolate

By Michael O'Connell March 11, 2010, 3:42 PM EST

The registration area and mini massage parlor

Photo: Rebecca McAlpin

Dove and iVillage's Chocolate Lounge
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When Dove Chocolate approached NBC Universal-owned iVillage about staging a public marketing stunt on the ground floor of the women's Web site's Chelsea Market headquarters, they anticipated a crowd of 300. They ended up doling out free sweets to more than 1,100 people over four hours at the Tuesday event.

Fortunately, they had the space. Working with Precision Event Group's Jason Wanderer, iVillage senior vice president of marketing Catherine Balsam-Schwaber turned a vacant 5,000-square-foot retail space into a chocolate-covered lounge filled with relaxing activities aimed at both brands' target consumer: women.

Billed as “an afternoon of indulgent moments,” free services included hand massages, makeup touch-ups by Bobbi Brown cosmetics, hair styling from Lea Journo, a sprawling lounge area with reading material, and a bar stocked with wines to pair with different Dove chocolates and confections from catering firm Appetite.

Planners anticipated interest from local workers and shoppers, but not the volume the promotion received. Early in the day, people started peeking in the windows to see what was happening, and by the time the doors opened at 3 p.m., there was already a line down the corridor. The partners also got the chance to reach an unexpected demographic: Men were in no shortage at the female-centric event.

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