Manhattan will soon welcome to its shopping scene Rookie USA, a kids-only sports retail destination that "provide a premium experience for savvy shoppers," a status only the truly elite children can claim. Basically, if you're not at least as big a baller as the kid from "Blank Check", you need not apply. (NOTE: This is probably not true.)
Finally, the creme de la shopping creme (kid-wise) will have a store that caters to their unique needs. And when they don't know which aisle has the Atlaspheres and go-kart racing gloves, they'll be able to ask a virtual Carmelo Anthony. The future is weird.
The three-dimensional, life-size image projection of the New York Knicks star — which I really, really want to call "HoloMelo" — was produced by Long Island-based "queue management solutions" vendor Tensator Inc., which has previously installed so-called "virtual assistants" to help direct customer traffic in airports, hospitals and, kind of weirdly, Duane Reade's Wall Street location. (This is what the Tensator Virtual Assistant at Germany's Frankfurt International Airport looks like.)
Newsday's Keiko Morris reports that Anthony "is the first celebrity to make an appearance as a Tensator Virtual Assistant." According to Tensator, the "Virtual Carmelo Anthony" will help Rookie USA customers use the store's interactive features, offer "in-store advice and guidance" and share basketball tips, among other things:
Prominently positioned at 6 feet 8 inches, the Virtual Carmelo Anthony captivates shoppers with its 3D look and feel, providing compelling store and branding information while engaging with customers. Surround sound audio is accompanied by highly visual information such as footage of Carmelo in action and the newest items in the Melo clothing line and sneakers, part of the Team Jordan brand. The Virtual Carmelo Anthony directs kids to the Hero's corner to see superstar athletes in action and compare their footprints to those of their favorite athlete, invites them to experience the iPad bar, shoot hoops at the Virtual Basketball Court, and use the interactive touch screens and kiosks located throughout the store. Customers can scan QR codes with the Virtual Carmelo Anthony using their smartphones to gain exclusive information and deals on Rookie USA brands.
Keith Carpentier, Tensator's senior business development manager, told DestinationCRM.com that the virtual 'Melo isn't a voice-activated assistant, but that "more interactivity" is part of the company's roadmap. In other words, Mike D'Antoni will have to wait a little bit longer for Anthony to actually do what he tells him to.
The virtual Anthony joins Madame Tussauds' wax 'Melo as the second lifelike-but-not-actually-alive likeness of Anthony unveiled this summer. Knicks fans quickly began joking en masse that the wax figure played better defense than the real deal, so the fact that HoloMelo's purpose is to give shoppers an assist makes me think that he's making all of his marketing decisions based on which flaw in his game he'd most like haters to roast. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next; I'm sure you have some ideas, which we'd (of course) love to see in the comments.