The Sears Prize — Agencies Gather to Pitch in Chicago

The stakes in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. apparel review have been raised as five of the ad industry’s biggest hitters convene in Chicago this week to match their wits for the prize.
Last week, new merchandise group chairman Arthur Martinez told a group of fashion executives in New York that Sears will increase apparel spending $30 million this fall in its first major apparel splash in years. Including pre-prints, Sears spent roughly $20 million on apparel in 1992.
‘We are the fourth largest advertiser in all of America, but we have not used the power of that resource,’ Martinez said. ‘We will change the marketing mix to emphasize apparel.’
In 1992, Martinez said apparel accounted for 26% of the merchandise group’s $31.9 billion sales. ‘But apparel’s share of profit was 64%,’ said Martinez. ‘That is one of our best-kept secrets.’ Martinez said he would like to shift more dollars into television advertising. ‘We will allocate more money to TV, but exact spending plans will be up to the agency be it (incumbent) O&M or someone else,’ he said.
For the agencies, the list of attendees at the pitch this week reads like a who’s who among ad executives.
Among the top executives, Ogilvy & Mather chairman/ceo Charlotte Beers; Wells Rich Greene BDDP chairman/ceo Ken Olshan; Hal Riney & Partners chairman/ceo Hal Riney are expected to be in attendance, as well as high-level executives from Young & Rubicam/N.Y. and Saatchi & Saatchi/N.Y.
For O&M’s Beers, who pitches on Monday, the review of the apparel business is her first major test to see if she can retain an important piece of business. O&M has both the luxury and the curse of being the incumbent, but no one is counting out Beers’ ability to pull off a major coup and retain the business.
‘It’s a huge pitch given the types of executives in attendance,’ said one executive. ‘It will be the biggest line-up of the year.’
Sears is using apparel as its ticket to turning around the troubled retailer. Martinez believes that Sears needs to get more women shoppers back in its stores.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)