Fifteen-second ads show Craftsman tools coming out of a toolbox to form a skeleton, which then wishes viewers a Happy Halloween, says brand manager Michael Cassar.
Ads, from Young & Rubicam, are running on such cable networks as TNT, ESPN, Comedy Central, NFL Network and Discovery Channel; a print version will appear this week in USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. Online, Sears is also running home page "takeover" ads on AOL and MSNBC, with the skeleton reaching out a hand to expand the frame of the Web page. Banner ads are running on such sites as AOL, Move.com, and ThisOldHouse.com.
Themed "There's a Craftsman in All of Us," Cassar says the ads "will also be played out across New York's Times Square on the Nasdaq, Reuters, ABC & NBC signs--and in stores some 30,000 home-improvement associates will wear the skeleton Craftsman T-shirts, which will also be sold online during Halloween week."
While Sears has been struggling with disappointing sales, the Craftsman brand continues to be one of its crown jewels, with high unaided awareness levels--and it is the leading tool brand, Cassar says.
But it is also an increasingly competitive segment. "The Craftsman tool line is still highly recognized," says Jim Robisch, senior partner at the Farnsworth Group, a hardware consulting firm in Indianapolis, Ind. "But it certainly has been impacted by the proliferation of national brands, especially the Home Depot and Lowe's.
"And while Craftsman became the dominant brand with its no-question replacement policy, a lot of the other brands have caught up. There are now almost 4,000 home improvement warehouses in the U.S., and they have very broad-based tool departments, carrying both national brands as well as their own private labels."
The Halloween campaign supplements ongoing marketing efforts, including its "Official Tools of Nascar" spots.
In its most recent quarter, Sears' same-store sales results, a measure closely watched by observers, fell 4.3%, and at its K mart unit, which also sells Craftsman tools, sales fell 3.8%.
Other leading Sears brands include Kenmore appliances and DieHard batteries.