Sears Hopes To Fill Void With Blue Crew

Brett Favre/Sears behind the scenes ad

With Circuit City out of business, Sears looks to fill the consumer electronics sales void, rebranding CE salespeople as the Sears Blue Electronics Crew that will help consumers choose their home electronics -- particularly televisions -- and can even help with installation and repairs.

"The Blue Crew is going to present themselves as a selfless group of individuals who work in service of the customer," Eddie Combs, chief marketing officer for Sears Holdings electronics, tells Marketing Daily. "We're developing new programs, so that we're not just a bunch of branded guys standing around in a store, but rather something that gives the customer something."

To that end, Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears is retraining and teaching its electronics sales people to make them better educated about the products they sell. They will also be able to help customers -- many of whom have done hours of research at home -- choose which product is really right for them and what the prices on those items are, even at other retailers. They will also be able to help set up installation through Sears -- something the company has been able to do in the past, but has not really advertised.

"We think that the real-time price check will show consumers there's another turnkey provider out there," Combs says. "People don't think of us as one because we're part of a department store."

The Blue Electronics Crew will begin appearing in stores in early fall, right around the start of football season (a time when many men think about upgrading their television sets). Sears has already filmed a television commercial featuring NFL quarterback Brett Favre -- who has famously had trouble deciding whether to retire from football -- having trouble choosing an LED television. The commercial will launch sometime after Favre makes an announcement about his football future. (Favre is said to be considering an offer from the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis, which is -- not coincidentally -- the headquarters for Best Buy.)

"What football spokesperson has a hard time making up his mind and is trying to do it in a way of having no regrets?" says Combs about choosing Favre as a spokesman. Other marketing efforts will include print, event marketing, social marketing and public relations.

The effort to rebrand the electronics staff as the Blue Crew is intended to make people think of Sears as more than a place to turn for emergencies, such as when a water heater breaks, Combs says. "People come to us in times of need, but we need to be more assertive and proactive," he says. "We need to be a little more vocal about the services we can offer and sharpen the pencil on the services we already do."

By doing so, Combs is hoping to piggyback on some of the goodwill people may already have for Sears when it comes to appliances (such as Kenmore) and tools (such as Craftsman). "We're a trusted advisor that's already been in a part of their homes" such as the kitchen, basement or garage," Combs says. "We have a lot of relationships with America. We just haven't taken it into the living room."

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