Sears Too LL Cool J for Its Clothes

In an effort to bring in back-to-school dollars at a time when retailers such as J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Nordstrom are reporting declining profits, Sears said it would unveil the LL Cool J Fall 2008 collection, supported by a print, Internet and POP campaign starring the rapper, his wife and their four kids.

Although it might not have the clout with the highly sought after tween and teen market that Wal-Mart brings to the table via its alliance with Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, the Hoffman estates, Ill.-based retailer feels that LL (real name Todd Smith) has enough influence with parents to move the marketing needle. This will be the first line of clothing and advertising between the entertainer and Sears, which signed him to an exclusive deal in May.

The LL Cool J Collection of clothing for Sears will debut in 450 stores Sept. 7, to coincide with the release of his latest album, Exit 13, which will available at select Sears stores and at on Sept 9. Sears has dedicated LL Cool J sections in many of its stores.

The print campaign will break in October issues of Cosmopolitan, CosmoGIRL!, Seventeen, Spin and Vibe. Shots include LL and his family wearing embroidered denim, cotton hooded sweatshirts and fleur-de-lis bejeweled T-shirts and other items from the collection. POP includes shots of LL Cool J in pieces from his collection. Items begin at $24 for T-shirts, $50 for denim and $60 for outerwear, per Sears.

Spend for the campaign was not disclosed. Sears spent almost $500 million on U.S. media in 2007 (not including online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Lead agency is Y&R Chicago.

“The opportunity for synergy between Sears and LL Cool J has been phenomenal,” Craig Israel, svp/president of apparel at Sears Holdings, said in a statement. “It stems in large part from the authenticity of the campaign. Sears was a fixture in his life from the time he was a child. He is committed to bringing that same relevance to families today.”