Rascal Flatts is teaming up with retailer JCPenney for a wide-ranging marketing and promotion deal which includes tour support, merchandise, advertisements and in-store play, Billboard.biz has learned. The deal kicks off with the April 7 release of the band's "Unstoppable" (Lyric Street) and will continue for at least two years, with an option to extend for additional years at the end of the term.

"Fortunately for Rascal Flatts, we have crossover music that's allowed us to play the Staples Center and sell it out, and play Madison Square Garden and sell it out, but when you get down to who the real the Rascal Flatts consumer is, it's the people between New York and L.A. and that's where JCPenney is," says Doug Nichols, the band's co-manager. "We feel that JCPenney is a partner that can grow our brand and we fully intend to help them grow their brand."

The Rascal Flatts American Living Unstoppable Tour presented by JCPenney is a two-year, 120-stop tour that kicks off June 7. Darius Rucker will be the featured act on the tour. American Living is an affordable clothing brand developed for JCPenney by Polo Ralph Lauren's Global Brand Concepts.

Mike Boylson, the chief marketing officer for JCPenney, says that while the company has never sponsored a tour before, "Rascal Flatts and the American Living brand is a perfect fit. Their music transcends genres and resonates strongly with our customers-the more than half of America that shops at JCPenney each year."

JCPenney will run one television commercial the first year and likely two the second year, according to Nichols.

The band wrote a track, "American Living," which will serve as the soundtrack for the first commercial. In addition, the track will be available on a special version of the "Unstoppable" CD sold only at JCPenney stores, and net proceeds from the sale of the CD at the retailer will benefit JCPenney's Afterschool fund, which provides children in need with access to afterschool programs.

In addition, LeVox, DeMarcus and Rooney will wear American Living apparel in concert. The American Living commercial, as well as behind the scenes footage from the filming of the ad, will run on two large side stage screens during the concerts. The band's fleet of 18 tour buses will feature imagery of the brand and special American Living merch promoting the tour will be available for purchase.

JCPenney remains one of the biggest general merchandise retailers in the country. There are more than 1,000 JCPenney department stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico; the business also includes one of the largest apparel and home furnishing sites on the Internet, jcp.com-JCPenney says Internet sales totaled $1.5 billion last year-and the brand is the nation's largest general merchandise catalog business.

For more on this story, see the Feb. 28 issue of Billboard.

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