Featuring "Mr. Bluelight," an animated wink at Kmart's long history of blue-light specials, the campaign includes 14 TV spots for network, cable and syndication, as well as 10 local radio spots and online advertising. Ads are also running in Hispanic markets.
"Mr. Bluelight" was actually an invention of Kmart's previous agency, Grey New York, and was introduced earlier this year. Kmart switched to Draftfcb shortly after the agency's whirlwind gain--and loss--of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
"One year older," the ads say. "One year wiser. Make sure they look the part. For back to school, get back to Kmart." In one spot, Mr. Bluelight drives the bus, as kids bounce on in their latest Kmart fashions.
Kmart hopes the ads will encourage moms to "cross the aisle from school supplies to apparel," the company says.
The new effort comes at a rough time for Kmart, now owned by Sears Holdings. Sales are down across most of its merchandise lines.
Earlier this month, the company took the unusual step of alerting investors of the drop in sales, announcing that Kmart same-store sales had fallen 3.9% in the first nine weeks of the second quarter. (In the same period, it says, sales at domestic Sears stores were also off, falling 4%.)
And the National Retail Federation recently predicted that back-to-school apparel sales--a critical profit period for retailers--would likely be flat.