May 7, 2007 / 7:57 PM / 12 years ago

With image of the past, Sears looks to spur sales

By Nicole Maestri

NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) - Sears, Roebuck and Co. is hoping to attract new shoppers by using a reminder of the past.

The retailer is launching a new marketing campaign that incorporates the image of a book, in reference to the days when Sears would mail out its Big Book catalog, packed with everything from clothes to toys to appliances.

Sears said it wants the image to rekindle the sense of endless possibilities that shoppers felt as children when they received the catalog and would flip through its pages, said Maureen McGuire, chief marketing officer of Sears Holdings Corp. SHLD.O, the parent of Sears, Roebuck.

Sears, Roebuck and Co. has struggled with declining sales amid heated competition. Last week, the company said first-quarter same-store sales fell 2.4 percent at its U.S. Sears stores.

The new campaign, with the tag line “Sears. Where it begins,” will highlight products and services that Sears hopes will evoke a “never-ending story about possibilities for life at home.”

“Our customers focus on family and home more than anything else in their life,” McGuire said at a press conference on Monday.

She said the campaign, which will be included in television ads, newspaper circulars and the Sears Web site, is looking to build on the “goodwill” that the Sears brand still has with consumers, even if they no longer shop there.

“It’s really not about going back. It’s about going forward,” she said. “We have to be a contemporary, 21st century brand.”

McGuire said the retailer wants the campaign to attract new shoppers and get current shoppers to spend more money in its stores. But she acknowledged that marketing can only go so far to improve sales. “Things don’t change because of a marketing campaign,” she said.

Instead, she said improving sales involves an integrated approach — from improving customer service to stocking better merchandise — to win back shoppers.

She declined to say how much the retailer is spending on the campaign but said: “We have a very healthy marketing investment.”

Sears Holdings shares declined 69 cents to $179.07 on Nasdaq. Sears Holdings also owns the Kmart chain.

((Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by J.S. Benkoe; Reuters Messaging:; (646) 223-6173)) Keywords: SEARS MARKETING/

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