As Sears struggles with redefining itself in the new millennium an effort is underway to focus business efforts on some of the company’s good-old reliable brand names and products.
Sears faces tough competition from savvy marketing, by companies like Target and Home Depot, and needed to find a solution that will show it can be just as hip and thought-provoking as these companies.
In sharp contrast to these relative newcomers to the marketplace the name Sears and Kenmore have been trusted brands in America for generations.
In fact one in two appliances in American households is a Kenmore Appliance, which explains why for Americans, Kenmore stands for quality workmanship that will stand the test of time.
Sears needed to capitalize on this trusted reputation.
Research shows some 50 million Americans identify themselves as do-it-yourselfers. Also, the do-it-yourself industry represents 15-billion dollars a year in revenue in the US. Capturing even a small part of this stream would be a major accomplishment for any retailer.
Given this evidence suggesting that Americans are becoming more and more comfortable doing things themselves, it was decided that pairing this new found comfort with the tried-and-true Kenmore brand could be a profitable undertaking.
Sears decided to launch a line of Kenmore Genuine Parts that could be installed by consumers themselves without the need to bring a repairman into their homes.
Kenmore Genuine Parts would be available in stores but Sears also wanted to show that it was now a techno-savvy company. Consumers would be able to go on-line and order any of the parts they needed and have them delivered right to their door. In this way Sears could, in a bold way, bring an established brand to the new era of e-commerce.
Launch this new line of products company-wide and get people excited about the potential to raise new revenue through this new line of products.
Inspire a group of 1,000 jaded regional managers and dealers with a seemingly dull group of products: appliance parts.
Inform these decision-makers that these parts would now be a part of their inventory and needed their company’s wholehearted support.
Build awareness with consumers that could go to a Sears store or website to buy the parts and leverage Kenmore name as a brand people trust.
Burson-Marsteller created Ken More and the All Parts Band at a time when “found” and odd instruments were becoming increasingly popular.
The success of Blue Man Group and the Broadway show Stomp led the team to believe this strange concept could somehow work using Kenmore Genuine Parts. A band that played these parts as instruments could help us grab the attention of a target audience that needed to be jolted to attention.
Dealers and employees who had seen launch after launch of lack-luster programs needed to listen to the band and believe our messages.
The client hoped to launch the new product line at its annual dealer convention in Nashville and so the tone of the music would be country, as would the premier of the band.
And so Burson-Marsteller wrote songs, pulled a group of talented musicians together to play and record them, and prepared to take the band on the road.
Not only would country music help our client reach dealers and managers at the convention but the down home family nature of country music would bring Sears to the consumers that shopped at its stores nationwide.
It was a perfect match.
Once the songs were written the band set to the tough work of making the tunes translate to appliance parts.
Burson-Marsteller quickly decided that using only parts sounded a bit too much like a lot of noise.
As the team progressed we added the simplest of bass lines or guitar track to bring the melodies to life. However, we stayed true to our mission of creating the majority of the music from the appliance parts and this we did.
All the sounds and sound effects came from the various parts. Whether it was the sound of a washer door beating out a rhythm, or the band using dryer exhaust tubes to moo like a cow, the parts were the central focus of the music and the messages.
While the band comprised five members overdubs of the parts produced a big sound in the recordings that was replicated in concert by the use of a follow track that played in the background during the shows.
The band sounded very good considering they were banging on water inlet valves, heating elements, and so on.
There is no question the launch of Kenmore Genuine Parts was like no other Sears product launch before. Results far exceeded expectations. Given the success of the program Sears plans on widening its line of Kenmore Genuine parts this year along with increased marketing efforts. The band is gearing up for at least two more trade show performances to bring the messages to life in 2001.
Articles ran in the Sears Internal Newsletters “SUpdate” and “Associate” delivering 300-thousand internal impressions.
Employees company-wide are now aware that Kenmore Genuine Parts are a new product line and relate their knowledge of the products and their efficacy to the band.
In Nashville one thousand Sears Dealers cheered the band on at Dealerfest saying it was the best convention ever asking organizers how the company would out-do itself next year.
Hundreds of the band’s CD and product information was distributed to conventioneers who demanded band member’s stay to sign autographs.
Initial order of one thousand CD’s was increased to two thousand due to Dealers requests for the item and for corporate employee giveaways.
One hundred and fifty select regional and district managers received the CD and accompanying information packet to continue the push, post-convention.
Videos of the band’s performance were requested by six regional managers to share at employee meetings and show on closed circuit TV systems in stores.
Dealers and regional/district managers are excited about the new line of parts and will feature them in stores.
The Band performed live on Nashville’s highest rated midday talk show raising consumer awareness locally and creating excitement for Dealers who saw the show live.
Wider consumer awareness of the products came through B-Roll of the event, distributed by Satellite. The video garnered 12-million impressions with stories airing in 50 broadcast markets.