Retailers Set Courses

Kmart Back-to-School Ads Spotlight Jeans, While Target, Sears Tie In With Causes
CHICAGO–While Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Dayton Hudson’s Target Stores will build their back-to-school campaigns around cause-marketing programs, Kmart Corp. is using the traditionally strong apparel sales season to push its private-label jeans brand.
Route 66 jeans, sold exclusively through the Troy, Mich.-based retailer, received their first broadcast advertising support last week [Adweek, July 20]. The two new TV spots from lead Kmart agency Campbell Mithun Esty in Minneapolis take an edgier approach than Kmart’s branding advertising, which features comedians Rosie O’Donnell and Penny Marshall.
The jeans spots aim to tell stories that are “just a little off center,” built around the urban myths that have become part of the Route 66 legend, said Ginny Vonckx-Shiverdecker, a senior vice president at CME.
“There’s an allure to Route 66 that exists in the imagination,” she said. “We wanted to recapture the spirit, romance and allure of the road and project [that] into story lines.”
One spot features a man who comes home to find a strange car in the driveway and a strange man chatting with his wife in the kitchen. Jealous, he fills the car with concrete, only to find that the man is a car dealer and the car is a present. The spot closes with the tagline, “Route 66. It’s not Main Street.”
The campaign is Kmart’s first to link an apparel brand with the store. Spending for the campaign was not disclosed.
Continuing with its philosophy of community involvement, Target is using the back-to-school season to once again spotlight its Take Charge of Education program. The effort allows customers who use Target’s Guest Card to donate an amount equaling 1 percent of their purchases to the school of their choice. As part of this year’s effort, however, Target is doubling its contribution to 2 percent on purchases made during the month of August, said Rod Eaton, the Minneapolis-based retailer’s director of sales promotions.
A TV spot from Martin/Williams, also in Minneapolis, extolling the 2 percent contribution breaks Aug. 9. It features child actor Alan Morgan, the bespectacled boy who appeared in previous spots for the program as a persistent salesman and inept car washer raising money for schools. This time, Morgan is in a dunking booth, taunting throwers at a school carnival.
Sears, meanwhile, will focus its back-to-school marketing efforts on a campaign featuring a scholarship contest and a charitable donation. The campaign will be built around the theme “Get back. Give back,” said John Costello, senior executive vice president for marketing at the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer.
Broadcast and print advertising from Young & Rubicam, New York, will highlight Sears’ commitment to Kids in Distressed Situations, a nonprofit organization, Costello said. With the purchase of children’s apparel between July 26 and Sept. 6, Sears will make a donation to the group.
Print ads broke July 26; broadcast will begin airing on Aug. 3.