SEARS ‘SOFTER SIDE’ SHOW FLOURISHES

Byline: Nancy Brumback

CHICAGO — Sears, Roebuck & Co. will expand its “softer side” advertising program to highlight more products this spring and will continue to sponsor major entertainment events.
Following a fashion show of Sears’ spring women’s apparel, Arthur Martinez, chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Merchandise Group, outlined promotion plans at the annual Retail Advertising Conference here Thursday, where he was elected to the Retail Advertising Hall of Fame. He was joined by John Costello, senior executive vice president of marketing.
Last year, Sears sponsored the North American tour of singer Phil Collins, which generated $1.2 million for local agencies helping the homeless and considerable publicity for Sears, said Costello.
This year, Sears will sponsor the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus in 97 markets, expected to reach 12 million people, he said. Such event sponsoring “changes the perception of Sears, helps strengthen the bond with customers and reaches them one-on-one on a local level,” Costello said.
Sears, as reported, is attempting to tailor about 70 stores in southern Florida, upstate New York, southern California and southwest Ohio, to local demographics. In light of this, a television and print “softer side” campaign aimed at Hispanic markets is being rolled out this quarter.
Another example of target marketing is the Sears Collegiate Champion program launched last year. Trophies were awarded to 1,400 participants in men’s and women’s sports and to top men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“Softer side of Sears” TV ads featuring women’s apparel will continue this spring, said Costello. A men’s wear spot will be added.
Sears has expanded the campaign with the tag lines, “The many sides of Sears.” It also uses “The first place we always try” tag line.
Meanwhile, Sears’ $4 billion, five-year remodeling campaign begun two years ago is 40 percent completed, Martinez said. The reintroduction of a main floor cosmetics and fragrance business has been “critical” for Sears in reestablishing itself as a department store and building traffic, Martinez said. Cosmetics departments are now in 125 stores, and will be added at the rate of 125 stores a year for the next three years. Private label cosmetics will debut this fall. — Fairchild News Service

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