A Vera Wang dress from the “@ Saks” campaign.

Retailer is incorporating its best assets — the Fifth Avenue flagship and rich corporate history — and advancing the past destination themes to being “@ Saks.”

With Saks Fifth Avenue’s advertising messages, there’s an ongoing evolution.

The “Want It” campaign aggressively spotlighted key items for seven seasons and was dropped when the recession hit, in favor of the lighthearted “Think about” and subsequent “I am going to” messages, to cheer up consumers and depict shopping as still okay in hard times.

This story first appeared in the August 15, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the next campaign launching Aug. 21, Saks plays it simple and direct by incorporating its best assets — the Fifth Avenue flagship and rich corporate history — and by advancing the past destination themes to being “@ Saks.”

With the @ symbol, Saks gets resourceful. It’s the motif for shopping bags, catalogues, store windows, in-store displays, upcoming ads on taxis, buses, billboards, and in print and social media. According to Terron Schaefer, executive vice president and chief creative officer, the @ symbol also evokes the store’s dot-com business.

The fashion photography for the campaign, done by Albert Watson, was shot in and around the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship — inside designer shops, on the roof overlooking Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue, by the main entrance, or by the polished escalator banks. Fashion from Dolce & Gabbana was shot on the cosmetics floor, Oscar de la Renta fashion at the 49th Street side entrance, and Donna Karan in the Fifth Avenue Club for personal service. Several photographs were taken outside looking into the Fifth Avenue windows, and pick up the reflections of people on the street, and even the photographer, lending what Schaefer described as a Gotham-esque effect. “We’re making Saks the hero, and wherever possible using the vendors’ own shops in the flagship,” Schaefer observed, though he added the @ campaign strikes a balance between the brick-and-mortar and online sides of Saks Fifth Avenue.

As in the past, much effort has gone into redesigning the shopping bag, but not without considering previous incarnations. The latest crop “is very true to our DNA in terms of the color palette and the geometric shape. We love the square,” Schaefer noted. There are seven variations for fall, and a few more for holiday. On the face of some bags, the @ symbol repeats in a pattern on squares, and there’s a modestly-sized squared Saks Fifth Avenue logo on the gussets. Another bag has just one big @ on its face, while another has a combination @ and Saks logo pattern on it.

Inside each shopping bag, there’s a message steering customers to saks.com and other Web sites, including twitter.com/saks to get “the front-row buzz” or facebook.com/saks to learn about events at the store or about trends or gift ideas. One message reads, “For videos of the dresses @ Saks, visit saks.com.”

Saks has also embedded quick response codes on outdoor ads in phone kiosks, on buses and bus shelters, and in New York print ads, so customers can quickly get a listing of happenings that day at Saks, such as designer appearances or new deliveries. In catalogues and magazine inserts, there are snippets of Saks’ history. One informs, “The first customers walked through our doors on September 15, 1924. The first product to sell out? A silver flask. (Prohibition was still going strong.)” Another indicates that “In 1926, Saks president Adam Gimbel’s trip to the Paris Exposition inspired him to renovate the interiors in the lavish Art Moderne style.”