Dressing Up Sears: Apparel Decision Only a First Step

As three outside agencies wait for word on who will leave Chicago with a major piece of business from Sears, Roebuck & Co., the giant retailer is about to embark on a major overhaul of its expansive, but outdated, marketing system.
Hal Riney & Partners/S.F., Young & Rubicam/N.Y., and Wells Rich Greene BDDP expect to hear next week which one won the retailer’s $40-million apparel division. The decision was supposed to have been made last week, but top Sears executives were meeting at a three-day marketing summit in Phoenix to discuss the presentations.
A spokesperson said the delay was due to scheduling problems.
Y&R was thought to have had the early lead, according to insiders, because of personal ties Y&R president Peter Georgescu has to Merchandise Group head Arthur Martinez. Sources now say the review has turned into a two-way battle between Hal Riney and Wells Rich in the final weeks.
The loss of a $40-million business from Chicago is a blow to the community. Leo Burnett Co. also missed a chance to bring another large piece of Chicago-based business back to the city when it lost to BBDO for the $20-million Hyatt Hotels business.
Meanwhile, insiders say that newly named marketing head John Costello is in the process of revamping the way Sears approaches its marketing. He is expected to play a major role in bringing the store’s marketing message together, something O&M has been pushing Sears to do in the past.
Costello is also expected to back away from the reliance of the regular weekly pre-prints – the one area where Sears spends a major part of its huge ad budget. Sears spent close to $150 million in magazines and newspapers last year, according to Leading National Advertisers.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)