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SOFT SELL: Y&R’s Appeal to Women Wins Sears By Jim Kirk and Cathy Taylor with Richard Brunell

Young & Rubicam/N.Y. last week won the year’s most closely watched review, taking home Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s $40 milli

Although sources close to the review process said both Hal Riney & Partners and Wells Rich Greene BDDP received positive feedback from Sears executives throughout the pitch, it was Y&R’s strategic thinking on the Sears apparel business that in the end outshown the two runners up. Y&R may also have benefited from being able to tap its sister companies, such as Burson-Marsteller and Wunderman Cato Johnson, and its network, calling on resources far away as South Africa, in the pitch.
‘We were very impressed with the breadth and depth in talent and its approach to creative, strategy and research,’ said John Costello, Sears’ senior executive vp and general manager, marketing. ‘While the focus is on the fall apparel campaign, we were interested in bringing on board a full-marketing partner.’
Frank Anfield, president/ceo of Y&R/N.Y. said, ‘Naturally, we are delighted to have been awarded this business by Sears. It was a very challenging and involved process.’
Y&R initially pitched the line ‘A softer side of Sears,’ to the top Sears management team, according to sources close to the review. One person familiar with the pitch said it is part of a three-phase campaign directed primarily at women. The first phase, which uses the tag in a jingle format, is a play off of words associated with both the hardlines and softlines business such as: hardware nails and things for fingernails. The second phase focuses on the apparel employee buyers at Sears and where they buy inventory around the world. Phase three is said to depict Sears’ understanding of what women want.
Costello wouldn’t comment on the taglines pitched, but said that the original five agencies in the pitch were asked to submit only one campaign. When the review was narrowed to three agencies in
April, the three were asked to pitch another campaign.
Costello said Y&R showed a keen insight into the apparel consumer as well as ‘innovation in media planning and provocative promotion ideas.’ Although Costello wouldn’t outline the strategy Y&R presented, he did say that Sears will be broadening its range of TV, utilizing cable and syndicated TV along with network and spot. Sears will also use more consumer magazines and alternative media.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)