Sears Names Hamblen CMO

NEW YORK Sears Holding Corp. has named Don Hamblen CMO and vp for the struggling Sears division, effective immediately. Hamblen, who was promoted from within, was vp, marketing and planning.

In his new role, Hamblen reports to svp Richard Gerstein, the client said. Hamblen fills a vacancy that was created when Gerstein rose to replace CMO Maureen McGuire in August.

This is just the latest of many changes at Sears under chairman Edward Lampert. The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company, which also operates Kmart, is trying to find new ways to spur same-store sales. For example, last month it announced the launch of a clothing line from rapper LL Cool J. It rolled out last week at stores as well as at

Hamblen, who has been at Sears for two years, will be put to the task of reconnecting with consumers via Sears’ sizeable budget. Last year, Sears spent nearly $500 million on media (not including online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Sears’ lead agency is WPP’s Y&R, Chicago.

Sears’ same-store sales declined 6.7 percent for its second quarter ended Aug. 28. “Our second-quarter results reflect the continued effects of a slowing economy which contributed to the earnings declines we have experienced since the third quarter of 2007,” said W. Bruce Johnson, Sears Holdings’ interim CEO and president. “While it was a difficult quarter, we were successful in reducing our domestic inventory levels by $500 million which should lead to lower markdowns and favorably impact our gross margin rates in the second half of the year.”

Sears is the nation’s fourth-largest retailer with more than $50 billion in annual revenue and about 3,800 stores in the United States and Canada.

Earlier this month, Kmart tapped Mark Snyder, a former svp, global brand management at Holiday Inn, as its new CMO. He replaced Bill Stewart who departed in June. Kmart’s agency is IPG’s DraftFCB, Chicago.