DeVito/Verdi Bows Stein Mart Effort

NEW YORK Stein Mart, the clothing chain in 30 states, is looking to change its image this fall.

Earlier this year, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company handed its business to New York independent DeVito/Verdi. Previously, it had worked with Orlando, Fla., independent Fry Hammond Barr. Spending was undisclosed. The client spends about $20 million annually in U.S. measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

In the 30-second “Perfume,” perfume-spraying women dressed in black assault a woman walking through a department store. As she staggers about with the substance in her eyes making it more and more difficult for her to see, a man at a piano sings how if you shop at Stein Mart you’ll, “Leave smelling like you did coming in.” It ends with the tagline, “We can save you.” The previous tag, “Once you go, you get it” was devised by FHB in 2003.

The integrated campaign, which launched last week, consists of five TV commercials, five radio spots, newspaper ads and in-store displays. It positions the store as the place to go for value. Previous spots had used customers in testimonials talking about their experience shopping at the store. The campaign will run for the next nine weeks.

“This is a new direction for us. We’re moving towards a stronger value message,” said Kathy Lussier, a client representative. “We were looking for something that would be memorable and a little more out there creatively than we had done before. This positions us as a place to get an upscale department store experience. We like to think of it as style without the sticker shock.”

The Stein Mart demographic is primarily women over 40.

The spots, all of which feature a tuxedo-clad piano player singing about events, “make them seem a little more hip, and their stuff is as good as those at higher end stores,” said Brad Emmett, cd, DeVito/Verdi. “If you see someone get shot in the eye with perfume in the beginning of the spot, you’ve got to stick around to see what happens.”