Sears Once Again Turns to Y&R

Young & Rubicam’s rebranding campaign for Sears, Roebuck & Co. is in production and set to break at the end of August, according to sources.

Y&R bested fellow Sears roster shop Ogilvy & Mather in a shootout to come up with a replacement for the retailer’s two-year-old tag and positioning, “The good life at a great price. Guaranteed.” The new work is expected to move away from price as a major selling point. A similar competition between the two Chicago WPP Group shops resulted in the current tag, with both agencies getting credit that time around.

A Sears representative declined to give details of the upcoming campaign. “We decided to go with Y&R’s idea, which will be implemented across our other agencies,” the representative said.

Both Chicago shops referred calls to the client.

The decision follows comments to investors earlier this year from Sears CEO Alan Lacy, who said he wanted Sears marketing to focus on the company’s breadth of offerings rather than merely price.

Y&R, which handles Sears soft goods, broke onto the Sears roster in 1993 when it came up with the long-running and initially successful “Softer side of Sears” campaign. Lacy has also criticized that campaign as being overly focused on one part of the retailer’s offerings.

Pitches were made last month before Lacy and David Selby, Sears’ marketing chief. At that time, both shops suggested nearly identical taglines, variations on “Sears. What else do you need?”

One source said Selby wanted a positioning that the retailer could back on all fronts. “He was looking for a promise that the whole company could keep,” the source said.

The retailer is under heavy fire from chains such as Target and Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart and Home Depot have upped the ante by pushing into larger appliances, long a Sears’ staple.

Sears spends about $600 million on advertising, according to CMR.

Although Sears is not expected to change its two-agency setup, the decision seems to give Y&R the upper hand in what has been a competitive situation. It comes on top of 40 layoffs at Ogilvy. It was also the first major shootout involving Ogilvy’s biggest client since Joe Sciarrotta joined the agency last year as co-managing director and executive creative director.