Zellers gets nostalgic

Darren Hardeman at Maxus comments on the retailer's recent marketing effort, which asks customers to share their memories of the store.
Zellers image

Some Zellers stores, in preparation for Target’s arrival in Canada next year, are beginning to close up shop. However the retailer isn’t ready to cry over spilt milk just yet, certainly not when it has over 80 years of shopper memories to reminisce about.

The “Zellers Memory Showcase” began last month with an invite for the retailer’s Facebook fans to recollect personal experiences they have had at its stores over the years.

Four memories that were posted to the page over the past month have been recreated into online videos that feature the eccentric “executive managing director” from Zeller’s previous “Festive Finale” campaign. In all, there will be eight videos re-enacting real-life events, including marriage proposals and celebrity encounters with one being posted each Friday until May. Creative for the promotion and placement of Facebook ads directing consumers to the app was handled by Toronto agency John St.

The inspiration for the promotion came from the emotional outpour of employee and consumer memories that were sent to Zellers after it made the announcement of store liquidations, Jennifer Zedic, director of marketing, in-store and social media, Zellers, tells MiC.

Zedic says that Zellers launched the “Festive Finale” campaign before the memory showcase in order to set an optimistic tone and that the Facebook page, which officially launched in November to house the Christmas promotion, gained 80,000 fans as a result.

“We wanted to keep it light-hearted and we thought that keeping the [executive managing director] character from the Festive Finale campaign would really keep it [cheerful],” says Zedic. “It’s sad that some of the stores are closing but some of the memories are very sentimental. They’re tear-jerkers, but they’re also heart-warming.”

At the end of the campaign, one of the eight chosen consumers (depending on who receives the most votes by Zellers’ Facebook fans) will receive $1,750 worth of gift cards to spend at the three Hudson’s Bay Company retailers, which include The Bay, Zellers and Home Outfitters.

It’s this type of prizing that has Darren Hardeman, managing director, planning and digital, Maxus, expressing his kudos for the execution, with the planner saying that the promotion works because it triggers a halo effect on other Hudson’s Bay Company brands.

“They’re trying to get rid of merchandise [and] this is a good way to celebrate, rather than mourn, the glory of what Zellers gave,” he says. “From that end, it’s great that they’re utilizing all of the various social media and making it into a big thing.”

“[The online promotion] is a very good way of inviting in your clientele, past and current, to talk about what Zellers has meant to them over the years and celebrate it,” he adds. “That’s the nut of it and I think that is what makes this execution good.”