Ammirati aubergine teases eatons to stardom



• Best plan overall

• Best plan for a budget of more than $1 million

• Best use of television

• Best use of magazine

• Best use of out-of-home


Agency/media company

Ammirati Puris, Toronto


Sears Canada



Media team

Lesley Tavel, media manager

Media budget

More than $1 million

Media used

Television, radio, newspaper,

magazine, out-of-home


October to December, 2000


In the fall of 2000, Ammirati Puris was charged with the task of generating mass buzz for the launch of the new eatons. Having been the subject of intense media scrutiny in its previous incarnation and throughout its subsequent purchase by Sears Canada, the eatons brand was looking to reposition upmarket and present a new face to the consumer. Particularly critical was the timing – eatons was to open in the crucial pre-Christmas period when retailers take in the bulk of the year’s revenue.

The challenges were clear: in a highly competitive retail Christmas season, make eatons a standout. In all media selected, the campaign was to reinforce urban style and fashion authority.


Using a three-phase approach – tease, reveal and store openings – Ammirati planned to capture the target group’s attention and imagination with unique and surprising media tactics.

For the first phase, the agency selected out-of-home as the medium by which consumers would come in contact with the eatons message. Giant 3-D objects symbolizing eatons’ style – a lipstick, a martini glass and a shoe – were placed in high-traffic areas on superboards and posters in all six target markets. The objects were painted aubergine (eatons’ new corporate colour) but initially had no identifying name or logo, in an effort to pique consumer curiosity.

More teaser ads were added later in the form of backlits and subway station posters, with the goal of having aubergine objects popping up everywhere on the urban landscape. The aim was to own and dominate key areas of the target cities, with each location being handpicked to maximize visibility. Entire or major parts of inventories were purchased at key subway stations in Toronto and Vancouver. As trains pulled into stations, passengers could not miss the eatons message.

Halfway through the campaign, outdoor and transit creative was refreshed to feature eatons’ new Christmas packaging.

Phase two, the reveal phase, focused on the creation of a big event to launch the rest of the campaign and explain the mysterious display symbols. Sears Canada partnered with CTV and purchased the entire network inventory (28 minutes) of commercial time for the Canadian premiere of the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies.

That purchase was backed by an aggressive forced-tuning campaign to ensure a big audience for the October 23 premiere. The CTV movie tune-in message was fully integrated with aubergine creative, and ran for the 14 days leading up to the movie.

Tomorrow generated a national audience of 1.79 million viewers and featured a one-time airing of the now-famous 4.5-minute version of the eatons spot. After the movie, the spot was cut down to 90 seconds and ran in highly selective properties for two weeks, exclusively in prime time.

Unique to this campaign was a saturation buy of ‘e-bumpers’ – five-second spots throughout the CTV schedule reinforcing the aubergine message – the first time an advertiser was allowed commercials of this length. Sixty- and 30-second TV spots rounded out the campaign for five additional weeks, playing only during such high-profile shows as Sex and the City and Will & Grace.

The morning after the initial TV event, listeners woke up to hear the aubergine song in high rotation on the major radio stations in the target markets. Sixty- and 30-second audio spots aired for four weeks so that consumers would see and hear the message everywhere. Just prior to the store openings, a radio spike was planned, with new creative describing what the stores had to offer, and featuring characters from the TV commercials.

Phase three, the store openings, featured a high-impact, eight-page newspaper insert in the major papers in each of the six markets. Customized to each market, the insert included a floor plan, a store guide and an events calendar.

Following the lead of the outdoor creative, a wrapping paper insert was devised to run in Canada’s two biggest fashion magazines, Flare and Fashion. The insert gave readers the chance to wrap their purchases in eatons wrapping paper.


The campaign boosted eatons’ awareness by 35% in eight weeks, highlighted

by the much-talked-about 4.5-minute TV spot. Awareness matched or surpassed major competitors, even though eatons had experienced a one-and-a-half-year interruption in its advertising. Store traffic exceeded the projections of both client and agency.