New Ads Ask Women To Come Back to Sears

CHICAGO – Acknowledging a perception problem, Arthur Martinez, chairman and ceo of the Sears Merchandise Group rolled out the red carpet for women last week, sayi….’We will mainly direct our marketing efforts to her,’ Martinez said. ‘We are ready to serve her for her own personal needs.’
Sears launched the long-anticipated ‘Softer side of Sears’ campaign Sunday night on ABC, and in Sunday magazines of the York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. The campaign, as expected, plays off of Sears’ history with hardline goods. In one print spread, for example, one page shows just a hammer, with the line, ‘My husband wanted a hammer.’ The other page of the spread shows a woman in a tunic sweater with the line, ‘I found something with more impact.’ The tagline is, ‘Come see the softer side of Sears.’
Sears plans to spend $40 million on apparel this year, an increase of roughly 15%. Some of that money may be coming out of the hide of the Brand Central business, which still accounts for the majority of Sears’ budget at Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago.
The campaign is the first from Y&R, which won the apparel business after a long creative shoot-out earlier this year.
The campaign is part of an extensive overhaul on the part of Sears to get women back shopping for themselves. Sears officials say 70% of men’s clothes and hardlines at Sears are bought by women, but a much lower percentage of those women are also buying clothes for themselves.
‘This campaign pays tribute to what we call our best kept secret,’ said Robert Mettler, president of the apparel group. ‘It sets out to shatter two myths. One, that women don’t shop at Sears. And two, Sears can’t compete in apparel. We need to tell our customers that we have everything they want.’
The apparel advertising has more than one aim, according to senior executive vp/general manager marketing John Costello. One is to get women to do more cross-over shopping in the stores, and to get women who wouldn’t consider shopping at Sears.
‘The advertising will appeal to those who won’t come into Sears,’ Costello said. ‘The ‘Softer Side’ is a long-term proposition for us. It does take time to change perceptions.’
Costello, who insiders say is beginning to get more aggressive in bringing in Sears’ huge database into the marketing mix, said another aspect of the campaign will be a direct-mailing targeted to its ‘best’ shoppers and to Hispanic and African-American women.
Martinez said both the Y&R campaign and the Sears ‘You can count on me,’ campaign from O&M will run separately during the upcoming holiday push. Martinez did say that O&M is working on a campaign to do a brand spin on holidays. He also said that Sears may seek a branding campaign that would include both apparel and hardlines.
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