The stakes in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. apparel review have been raised as five of the ad industry's biggest pitchers convene in Chicago this week to match their wits for the prize.
Last week, Arthur Martinez, chairman/ceo of the Sears Retail Merchandise Group, told fashion industry executives in New York that Sears will increase apparel spending $30 million this fall in its first major apparel splash in years. Including prc-prints, Sears spent roughly $20 million on apparel in 1992.
"We are the fourth largest advertiser in all of America, but we have not used the power of that resource," said Martinez. "We will change the marketing mix to emphasize apparel."
In 1992, Martinez said apparel accounted for 26% of the merchandise group's $31.9 billion sales. "But apparel's share of profit was 64%," said Martinez. "That is one of our best-kept secrets."
Martinez said he would like to shift more dollars into TV. "We will allocate more money to TV, but exact spending plans will be up to the agency, be it (incumbent) O&M or someone else," he said.
The agencies will send a star-studded cast for the pitches this week. Among them, Ogilvy & Mather chairman/ceo Charlotte Beers; Wells Rich Greene BDDP chairman/ceo Ken Olshan; Hal Riney & Partners chairman/ceo Hal Riney are expected to be in attendance, as well as high-level executives from Young & Rubicam/N.Y. and Saatchi & Saatchi/N.Y.
For O&M's Beers, who pitches on Monday, the review is her first major test to see if she can retain an important piece of business. O&M has both the huxury and the curse of being the incumbent, but no one is counting out Beers' ability to pull off a major coup and retain the business. Insiders said that Beers and her team have pledged to run the apparel business out of New York if the agency retains it. And although the Chicago office has had an apparel campaign in the works that has tested well in the past, Beers and Co. will pitch a new campaign.
Sears is using apparel as its ticket to turning around the troubled retailer. Martinez believes that Sears needs to get more women shoppers back in its stores. It's one of a number of drastic changes Martinez has made since coming aboard last year. He consolidated divisions from seven to three and has overhauled top management.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)