Eaton’s prepares to be exhumed

It's been two weeks since Sears Canada split its advertising creative account between incumbent Ammirati Puris and TBWA Chiat/Day, but the retailer has still not decided which agency will be handed the task of breathing new life into the once-venerable Eaton's...

It’s been two weeks since Sears Canada split its advertising creative account between incumbent Ammirati Puris and TBWA Chiat/Day, but the retailer has still not decided which agency will be handed the task of breathing new life into the once-venerable Eaton’s brand.

Originally, Sears said it planned to award its retail branding assignment to one agency, and have another shop work on both the Sears Whole Home business and the Eaton’s banner. But that thinking changed during the review process after agencies presented Sears with some different ideas for divvying up the business.

‘We’re rethinking a couple of things,’ says Nina MacLaverty, Sears’ vice-president of retail advertising. ‘The (shortlisted agencies) have given us some food for thought on not only who does what, but how to bundle it.’

Regardless of which agency inherits the Eaton’s business, one thing is clear: The banner will be abandoning its most recent positioning strategy – chic fashion items for the younger set – and moving back to its roots.

Paul Walters, CEO of Sears Canada, has said in published reports that the company’s six Eaton’s locations will return to selling hard goods like appliances and electronics and that its fashion offerings will be positioned somewhere between the everyday assortment at Sears and the upscale selection at Holt Renfrew.

Communicating the new positioning to consumers will pose a significant challenge, however, since many of Eaton’s previously loyal customers may already feel too alienated by events of the recent past to rekindle their affinity for the brand.

‘They’ve got to get it right, first off the bat,’ says Richard Talbot, an analyst at Unionville, Ont.-based Talbot Consultants. ‘There’s got to be a ‘wow’ factor when people walk into the store to restore instant credibility.’

Because Sears is only operating six Eaton’s stores, each of which is located in a different urban market, Talbot says the store’s new handlers will have to stop marketing it as a conventional retail brand.

‘I think what they have to do is define who their target customers are in the specific markets they’re in,’ he says. ‘Each of the different markets has different ethnic mixes, different incomes, and different needs. It’s that kind of independent focus, rather than a chain focus that [they need].’

MacLaverty would not comment on when a new campaign to promote Eaton’s repositioning will break, although most observers figure it will appear in late summer, in time for back-to-school shopping.

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group