HARDIN LEAVES SAKS

Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — Russ Hardin, Saks Fifth Avenue’s senior vice president of creative brand management and a key player in redirecting Saks advertising, has left the company after just about a year on the job.
Saks plans to find a successor to lead the team of art directors, copy and production staff Hardin leaves behind. Hardin reported to Sheri Wilson-Gray, executive vice president of marketing.
Soon after he joined Saks, Hardin developed the store’s upbeat “Live a Little” advertising campaign, which last fall replaced the chain’s more austere Defining Style tag line. “Live a Little” is considered a critical piece in the store’s efforts to lighten up its image and draw a wider audience.
Hardin said he had “tremendous fun” at Saks with “Live a Little, but added, “I felt I took it as far I could. They should continue to push it.” He said he was considering returning to retailing, rather than an ad agency, but wouldn’t specify. “It won’t be the usual sort of position.”
“Defining Style” was effective, but after five years, it ran out of steam and was too product-specific to fit the new Saks strategic mission of “accessible luxury” and efforts to project lifestyle messages.
As reported, Hardin gave the campaign a sense of humor and used it to show a range of products and illustrate diversity, selecting people all ages and body types, even dogs. Story lines and dialogs were created. For Hardin, “Live a Little” suggested enjoying life, more so than spending at retail.
Before joining Saks, Hardin was a partner and creative director for Thuman Christensen & Hardin and earlier served as as group vice president of global brand management at Avon.