Sears-Kmart: Comeback or Deja Vu?

Sears Holding Corporation, the parent of both Sears and Kmart stores, is apparently coming to life after what they admit has been two years of “lying in the weeds.” Over the past year, there have been whispers that Sears Holding Corp. was a potential bidder for everything from Home Depot Inc. to Anheuser-Busch Co. — although nothing yet has materialized.

However, they have rolled out their first major marketing campaign involving the Kmart side of the business. Maybe you’ve already seen their new mascot — a talking light bulb called “Mr. Bluelight.” Remember their old “blue light specials”? I wonder if it’s wise to move backward in order to move forward? Time will soon tell.

Sears, on the other hand, will promote their brand in commercials and ads under their new tag line: “Sears: Where it begins.” Sounds like a real barn-burner, doesn’t it? Makes you want to jump up out of your La-Z-Boy, throw the family into your car and burn rubber to get to your nearest Sears outlet, doesn’t it?

We all know that ad companies charge a fortune to come up with these ideas of “talking light bulbs” and catchy slogans such as the one mentioned above. Don’t you think a very cautious and critical public expects much more than they’re about to receive from two major organizations who were at one time the #1 and #2 retailers in the country?

I’m somewhat shocked that they haven’t moved sooner than this. However, after hearing their strategy, I wonder if they shouldn’t wait even longer. Maybe they should have considered a national campaign built around a competition urging smart shoppers from coast to coast to create a slogan that best describes the new mission of this potential retail giant. The grand prize: One million dollars. Sound ridiculous? Maybe not.

  • They would grab the attention of the entire nation by revealing the grand prize.
  • They would have to share their new mission so those creative shoppers would have an idea how to create the proper slogan.
  • Potential shoppers would have to pay attention to the new mission if they hoped to compete.
  • Sears Holding Corp. would be tapping the creative juices of the entire country.
  • Hundreds of thousands of potential customers would be involved in hopes of winning that money.
  • Announcing the winner nationwide would create a lot of publicity.
  • The prize money of one million dollars would be much less than the price paid to the ad company for the “talking light bulb” and the four-word slogan that leaves you wondering “Where what begins?”

Regaining credibility in the eyes of today’s shopping community is going to be a tremendous challenge for these two one-time retail giants. Things have changed drastically since Sears and Kmart towered over all other competitors … the economy, jobs, politics, gas prices, consumer mind-sets, and a whole new competitive field of very strong retailers. They simply can’t afford to come back with the same tired strategy they used before joining forces. Again, time will tell.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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