Saks Selects Shepard Fairey for Spring Ad Effort

The proletariat surely wouldn’t care for a bourgeoisie brand like Saks Fifth Avenue, however that hasn’t stopped the retailer from borrowing the look of a Russian Communist-era poster. The struggling luxury chain hired artist Shepard Fairey to create eye-catching limited-edition bags, store windows, catalogs and in-store presentations. The new look will hit stores on March 12.

Fairey, who created the “Obey” street campaign as well the famous President Obama “Hope” campaign poster, went with a propagandist representation of Saks’ six-year-old “Want it!” campaign. Block lettering in red, black and white colors says: “Show your arms: Short-sleeve jackets” and “Stride forth in aggressive shows.” His design firm is called Studio Number One.

Saks could use the attention. The 104-store chain announced yesterday that it lost $98.8 million in Q4. It predicted a 4 percent sales increase during the holidays. However, sales fell 15.3 percent.

This prompted the CEO Stephen Sadove to abandon Saks’ prior strategy of discounting prestige brands. Instead, it will add a mix of less expensive products. “This current macroeconomic and retail landscape perhaps is the most challenging that the company has faced in its 84-year history,” he said in a statement.

Still, he said, “We continue to make targeted investment sin our strategic merchandising, marketing and selling initiatives.” Saks spent $35 million on media, excluding online, in 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The former counter-culture artist Fairey said, in a statement, that he decided to create the new campaign because “I’m not interested in speaking to a small group; I’ve always thought it was the duty of intelligence to make art for the people.”