Does holiday spot say new life for Sears or last gasp?


Yeah, we’ve been surprised by a lot of what Sears is up to, at least so far as its television marketing efforts are concerned.

We’ve been surprised the most by how aggressive Sears suddenly appears to be at a moment when almost all the experts already had written off the department store behemoth as all but a goner.

Could this be the last gasp?  The final great push to find out if there is any life left in a company that had seemed nearly comatose for the past decade?

Whatever the case, there is no question that — suddenly, surprisingly — Sears is out there marketing itself.  Everywhere.  Whenever we turn on a television — well almost every time — there is a Sears commercial.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.  Just getting the Sears name out there is something that hadn’t really been done effectively for years.

But here’s where the rub comes for us.  The very big rub.

It began back in the summer during the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Yes, we recall vividly.  As we were most nights during the quadrennial sporting spectacle, we were glued to the TV screen when it first hit us.

Summer spot suggested Sears was back in force

That first TV spot that really got people talking about how — suddenly, surprisingly — Sears was back in the discussion as a force — we must watch what we say here — to be reckoned with in the TV commercial realm.

Yes, it was that commercial with the two lovely model types on the beach. Mesmerized, we watched. Only to find out that it would end — suddenly, surprisingly — with a thud of massive proportions as the two  protagonists crashed into a collection of Sears appliances sitting, most improbably, right there on the beach.

It was, quite honestly, painful for us to watch.  Especially given the thumping sound of body heating metal hard was emphasized in the sound mix to underscore the sudden, surprise ending to the commercial.

Okay, we said, we could tolerate this brazen attempt to shock and pain us if Sears was intent on using such tactics to underscore that somehow a new Sears had suddenly materialized and replaced the dowdy one so many shoppers had known for so long.

Okay, we thought. 

But we shouldn’t have felt so comforted. Because there it was again and again over the course of the Summer Olympics — prompting the same excruciating pain with every additional airing.

Spots don’t convince that Sears is back

So imagine our sudden shock when we found out the beach spot was being replaced by a holiday TV spot that cleverly disguised its ugly denouement by pretending for its first 20 or so seconds to be a trailer for some holiday film about two bloggers.

Clever buggers, that crowd from McGarryBowen/Chicago who did the holiday spot, as well as the summer beach spot. Just when everyone was thinking the Chicago shop had lost its way they have come back on the radar screen in a big way.

But has McGarryBowen really been so wickedly clever with this new “This Is Sears” TV campaign?  For us, this is where this whole sudden, surprising Sears resurgence effort hits a real speed bump.

Thanks to what has obviously been a huge media buy, we’ve seen both the summer and the holiday spots countless times.  We admire how both commercials managed to catch us off guard — at least the first time we saw them.

Innumerable viewings later, however, we are here to say these commercials have not convinced us Sears is back. Or here to stay. Whichever seems more apt.  

We maintain this stance to this day, despite repeated comments from folks whose opinions we respect indicating they find this Sears work likable. Appealing.  More than pleasant and definitely surprising.  And yes, they still can’t quite believe this stuff is coming from Sears.

Yet it is.  

Sales figures will tell if shoppers respond

Whichever side of the debate one finds oneself on, the question remains: Is this the kind of advertising that will be Sears’s salvation at long last? Will the kind of sudden, surprising shock to the system these commercials provide send huge numbers of shoppers rushing into Sears at long last?

We think not.

Not anymore than did a similar — albeit less painful to watch — effort by JCP, which has been generating as much talk in marketing circles recently as has the new Sears push. 

Eventually, the sales figures will tell us if all this sudden, surprising shocking new advertising from Sears is working.

‘Til then, the talk will surely continue. 

We just hope we can survive all the pain and angst Sears has made us endure to inform us that — ouch! — “This Is Sears.”

Contact Lewis Lazare at