Burrell Adds New Side To Sears’ Ad Message

By Trevor Jensen

CHICAGO–Fashion-conscious African American women seldom think of Sears when searching for trendy garb, a mindset the retailer is attempting to change with a targeted campaign from Burrell Communications that broke here last week.

It’s the first work for Sears, Roebuck & Co. from Burrell, which resigned as African American agency for Kmart to take over Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears’ estimated $5 million minority account in April 1996.

Backed by jazzy music, the 30-second commercial, ‘Spicy Little Number,’ shows a fashion drawing coming to life, dancing in a number of loose-fitting outfits. A poetic voiceover tells viewers ‘There’s something appealing about the way fluid fabric flows, goes with your every curve as you sway, and sashay, in a spicy little number.’

The message is another salvo in the retailer’s battle to fight its frumpy image, letting black women know that Sears has the chic, comfortable clothing they want, said Sharon Kimbrough of Burrell, the spot’s producer. The clothes are a new line designed exclusively for Sears by Alvin Bell, an African American fashion designer.

Research by Burrell showed Sears had fallen from favor among fashionable black women. ‘African Americans are not shopping at Sears as much as they’d like them to,’ Kimbrough said. ‘They feel there’s nothing there for them.’

The campaign, which includes print and radio ads, continues ‘The Softer Side of Sears’ theme developed by Young & Rubicam, Chicago, which shares the national Sears account with Ogilvy & Mather, also in Chicago.

‘I think we take the ‘Softer Side’ advertising one step further,’ said Pam Kelly, vice president of client services at Burrell. The goal is to get African American consumers, particularly women, into the store where hopefully their perceptions will be enlightened by the fashions available, Kelly said.

Media for the TV spot includes network and cable with a skew toward programming with high African American viewership.

According to John Costello, Sears senior executive vice president for marketing, ‘The ad campaign in general, and this TV spot in particular, tells African American women we can provide apparel that is relevant to their lifestyle today.’

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