Sears Gets Aggressive with Social Media

It seems you can teach an old brand new tricks. Sears has launched a clever social media and product placement campaign that could turn things around for the brand just in time for back to school.

Targeting the 8-to-14 year old market, they started out doing the usual: sponsorships with FacebookMySpace, Seventeen, Cosmogirl, Nickelodeon and Disney.

They’ve also developed and posted games on various sites like Addicting GamesFunBrain and Neopets.

What I’m most impressed with, however, are the virtual Sears boutiques, fashion shows and design competitions for avatars within online communities like ZwinkyMeezWeeMeeThe N and Poptropica. This is a very clever way to get their target market to personally interact with the brand. Wildly popular with the tween crowd, these sites allow young girls to play dress up with virtual characters. Clearly Sears hopes that girls will have so much fun shopping at the virtual store, they will ask their moms to let them go to the real thing.

Sears also partnered with High School Musical star, Vanessa Hudgens in the creation of “Arrive Lounge” a site that encourages teen girls to go back to school in style (the tag: “Don’t just go back. Arrive.”) The site also offers behind-the-scenes footage from Hudgens’ Sears ads as well as sweepstakes and downloads.

Finally, the brand has the enviable position as the exclusive retail partner for the MTV movie The American Mall, the story of a group of teens working in their local mall. Scenes for the 87-minute film were shot in a real Sears location and characters not only wear Sears clothes throughout, the actors also appear in advertisements and circulars. I imagine they are hoping to do for their brand what Valley Girl did for Orange Julius in the 80s.

All of this comes on the heels (pun intended) of a campaign targeting teens headed for prom and other end-of-school dances called Prom Premiere 2008. It featured an interactive site that allowed girls to share photos of dresses with family and friends, so they could mix and match the dresses, shoes and accessories to get virtual help in making “the most important decision in a young girl’s life.” The look of the site was very red carpet, which was a great design choice.

Overall, this total campaign is very aggressive and hits all the sweet spots in terms of connecting with the tween crowd through social media. I will let you know if/when Sears releases any ROI.

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