Sears Canada goes for laughs (and social)

The company embraces digital and social media for mass appeal as it promotes its new, more open-concept stores and updated logo.

As Sears Canada unveils its revamped image, it’s tapping into comedy — and digital — to spread the message.

The retailer, which has been infamous for its struggles in recent years, is refreshing its image with a new in-store campaign entitled #WhatTheSears (or “#WTS”), which coincides with the opening of two new concept stores that it has named Sears 2.0 at the CF Promenade Mall in Thornhill and Mapleview Centre in Burlington. The store is distinguished from the classic Sears image with a new logo and a more open-concept layouts that make all departments and displays easier to see.

As a complement to the #WTS campaign, Sears Canada paired with comedians Amanda Brooke Perrin, Dena Jackson and Lindsay Mullan. The three created a hidden camera feature, pranking unsuspecting customers in the Thornhill store with one of the comedians leaving a half-eaten chocolate bar in a boot on display, and another deciding to eat the chocolate bar. The prank video was uploaded to YouTube, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, with paid promotion on both platforms.

While the in-store #WhatTheSears campaign was designed by Sears Canada’s agency of record TBC, Sears Canada executed the digital video through PR firm Strategic Objectives, which brokered the deal with the three comedians as part of a partnership with Just For Laughs Festival 42. A rep for Strategic Objectives confirmed to MiC that the video is not officially part of the campaign but was designed as a complement to it to “play into the fun and unexpected nature of that over-arching campaign.”

A paid targeted social campaign on Facebook and Twitter to direct shoppers to the Thornhill store during the pranks was executed by MediaCom Canada. The GroupM agency also paid to promote the final videos created within the social space. It has also planned and booked “#WTS” projections on the new Sears 2.0 stores in the coming weeks.

It’s not Sears’ first foray into digital — in November 2014, Sears debuted a digital short starring actor Mike Myers and his brother Peter and showcasing the hashtag #MyBrotherWorksAtSears. The video has since earned almost 1.5 million views.

Vince Power, VP of corporate communications  for Sears Canada said he expects the retailer to embrace more social and digital content, although he said there were no specific, set plans yet. But he did say that Sears Canada’s current goal was to grow its appeal across the country become known once again as a go-to store for all Canadians. The company’s specific goal is to reach 75% of Canadians.

“We don’t expect to reach (75% of Canadians) we want to going through traditional things like flyers,” Power told MiC. “With calling these new stores Sears 2.0, we want to feel like we can take that risk a little more and say, ‘let’s do it social.’”

Going digital is not necessarily about reaching a younger demo, said Power, but about the new age of mass appeal. “There’s a bit of a misconception that when you go digital it’s only because you want to get millennials,” he said. “Really, the demographics are quite broad, especially when you look at Facebook and Twitter. It’s about casting the biggest net possible.”

At press time, the video had 13,600 views.