Sears Bops With Teens

CHICAGO-Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s use of an unreleased Backstreet Boys song in its back-to-school advertising this year does not figure into the company’s search for a new branding position, officials with the company and its ad agencies said.
Young & Rubicam, New York, will produce two TV spots promoting the retailer’s sponsorship of the pop group’s fall tour, officials announced last week. The sponsorship and campaign are part of an overall effort to attract younger consumers.
The song will appear in two spots. One will show the group being chased by fans through New York, à la A Hard Day’s Night. The other spot will feature Sears’ back-to-school fashions.
Officials with Sears and Y&R said the teen-oriented campaign has no bearing on an ongoing review to find a successor to the company’s long-running “Softer Side” campaign.
In February, Sears executive vice president of advertising Mark Cohen told Wall Street analysts the company was planning on moving away from “Softer Side.” The positioning was developed by Y&R in 1993. Sears’ two agencies, Y&R and Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, were asked to present ideas.
Officials at Sears, Hoffman Estates, Ill., estimated the company would have a handle on its new direction by April. That has been delayed, though, and now not expected until mid-June.
The company has called in Greenwich, Conn.-based marketing consultant Jack Trout to help find its new direction. Based upon his counsel, the initial assignment has been altered and expanded, sources said.
-with Justin Dini