CASSIES Gold: Zellers’ festive finale

Shoppers take charge of the retailer’s final holiday sale to soaring success.
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GOLD: Events, Seasonal & Short-term

Situation Analysis In January 2011, Zellers announced it would close its doors after over 80 years in operation. American super-chain Target took on the majority of Zellers’ leases, with store closures beginning in early 2012. This led to an unusual challenge for the ever-important Christmas season. Corporate priorities were now on profitability (not sales volume), discounting would be at a minimum and the marketing budget was slashed. How could Zellers generate excitement, energy and traffic?

Strategy & Insight When the Target deal was announced there was considerable social chatter about consumers and employees feeling things were out of their control. So Zellers decided to put the final holiday sale in the hands of consumers. Literally. The Festive Finale would be positioned as a celebration rather than the screaming desperation of a typical closing sale.

Execution The limited budget ruled out TV and radio, so the campaign focused on social media – primarily Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – which was unheard of for a mass merchandiser during the holiday season. “Festive Finale” launched Nov. 1, 2011 with a video memo from the (fictional) executive managing director of Zellers, announcing that senior management was taking off early, leaving its Facebook fans in charge of the store’s final holiday sale. The video drove to the Zellers Facebook page, which was the hub for the entire campaign. Videos introduced super-extroverted manager Carol and quirky cashier Jason. They invited users to involve themselves with every aspect of the Festive Final, such as specifying which items to discount and helping create radio commercials.

Results The Festive Finale delivered Zellers’ most profitable Q4 in 10 years, up 16% from the year earlier. In a challenging retail environment, Zellers grew overall sales by 2.5% from the previous quarter while the Canadian General Merchandise category dipped 1.2%. Zellers proprietary data indicated the average Facebook fan spent 2.5 times more on merchandise per trip than the average customer.

Cause & Effect Given that Zellers invested minimal funds outside of Festive Finale, success over the holiday period is indisputably linked to the campaign.


Client: HBC Canada
SVP Zellers marketing & fashion: Debbie Ford
Director of marketing, ISM & social media: Jennifer Zedic
Agency: John St.
Co-CDs: Angus Tucker, Stephen Jurisic
Copywriter: Keri Zierler
AD: Hannah Smit
Digital producer: Cas Binnington
Team leader: Heather Crawley
Account supervisor: Jared Applebaum
Account executive: Joelle Woodruff
Director of brand experience: Shari Walczak
Digital strategist: Allison Coggins
From Amoebacorp:
CD: Mikey Richardson
Designer: Jeff Rae
Design intern: Aria Novosedlik
Account director: Stacey O’Connor
Account coordinator: Dominique Anthony