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 HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Sears Merchandise Group today previewed its new $40 million apparel advertising campaign, inviting customers to "Come see the softer side of Sears" by shopping their local Sears store and seeing an expanded selection of fashionable and affordable women's apparel.
 The "softer side" advertising campaign, developed by Young & Rubicam, New York, will premiere Sunday, Sept. l9, on the 45th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards Presentation on ABC-TV (8 p.m. EST). The campaign will also break simultaneously in the Sunday magazines of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. A number of major consumer publications, including women's specialty magazines and shelter magazines, also will carry the new ads.
 "We created the new advertising campaign following several months of research and extensive discussions with our target market -- women who are primary decision-makers and chief purchasing agents, if you will, of middle-American families," said Arthur C. Martinez, chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Merchandise Group.
 "We've listened carefully to the women who shop at Sears for their families and their homes, and we know they also want affordable, fashionable apparel for themselves. Through our 'softer side' campaign, we want to tell American women that we have upgraded our apparel assortments and that we have what they are looking for," Martinez said. "We want the campaign to disarm the skeptics and pleasantly surprise our customers and feature the kind of merchandise that's on our sales floor right now," Martinez said.
 Martinez said that the new apparel ad campaign is only one of several initiatives designed to continue to improve the performance of Sears Merchandise Group. Others include a $4 billion, five-year store renovation program; the acceptance of VISA, MasterCard and American Express at Sears; new customer-service programs; and new pricing strategies made possible by a lowering of expense levels. He noted that while this campaign focuses on apparel, Sears campaign will continue to promote its hardlines merchandise aggressively.
 Robert L. Mettler, president of Sears Apparel Group, said the "softer side" campaign reflects the ongoing improvement of merchandise fashion and quality at Sears in recent years. "Sears apparel has been our best-kept secret. We've taken dramatic steps to improve our apparel quality, value, selection, price and fashion levels. We will continue to enhance our apparel merchandise by offering department store quality and fashion at more affordable price points," Mettler said. "This campaign is aimed at communicating those changes and inviting women into our departments to see our progress first hand.
 "While this particular phase of our advertising campaign primarily focuses on women's apparel, other ads will focus on additional apparel merchandise such as men's, children's, footwear, etc., emphasizing the buying power of Sears with national brands and Sears private labels," he said.
 He noted that customer response has been excellent to the full array of Arrow shirts and accessories Sears recently introduced, with sales exceeding expectations.
 John H. Costello, senior executive vice president and general manager of the marketing division for Sears, explained that the new campaign will be supported by one of the largest marketing efforts in recent Sears history. The advertising expenditure will increase total apparel marketing spending to over $200 million annually.
 "Our new campaign is designed to close the perception gap between what our customers expect to find in our stores and what we actually have in our stores in fashionable and affordable apparel," Costello said. "We are making a substantial investment to reach our target customer through a wide range of media." Broad-scale use of television will include high-visibility programs like the Emmy's, Country Music Awards and Barbara Walters specials. Print ads will appear in a number of general interest and women's service books.
 "Based on extensive customer research, we expect our women customers to react very favorably to the new campaign," Costello said. "And what's most encouraging, she told us she is interested in shopping more regularly at Sears for more of her apparel needs."
 The television and print apparel advertising campaign builds on the strength of Sears famous "hardlines" merchandise by whimsically casting a comparison with the "softer side" of Sears, referring to apparel merchandise. "We think it's arresting, inviting and compelling," said Costello. For example, one print ad begins by picturing a Sears battery and the words, "I came in for a DieHard." It continues, "And I left with something drop dead." The words are attributed to a model in an alluring black evening dress sold by Sears.
 Another ad shows pajamas for a child and the statement, "I found something to help my two-year-old go to sleep." On the facing page, a lingerie-clad model adds, (And I found) "something to keep my 40-year-old awake."
 A third ad states, "I went in for a lamp, but I found an even better way to light up the room." The model wears a fashionable dress with bright shoulder trim. In one ad after another, the mention of familiar Sears hardlines goods leads to a "softer" approach and women's apparel: "My husband swears by submersible pumps ... but I prefer the suede ones" (shoes); "My husband wanted a hammer ... but I found something with more impact."
 The ads conclude with the invitation, "Come see the softer side of Sears."
 In the first 10 weeks, the new campaign will consist of four television ads -- one 60-second and three 30-second spots -- and six, two-page, four-color magazine ads.
 The campaign is targeted at Sears female customers between the ages of 25 and 54 who have an average household income of $25,000 to $60,000, and who usually work.
 Sears began the review of its women's, men's and children's apparel advertising in early 1993 and Y&R was selected to handle the business in June.
 -0- 9/14/93
 /CONTACT: Gerald E. Buldak of Sears, 708-286-8371/

CO: Sears Merchandise Group ST: Illinois IN: REA ADV SU:

TW -- NY022 -- 1686 09/14/93 10:33 EDT
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Date:Sep 14, 1993

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