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Sears Shifts to Digital

Usually, when marketers decide to shift dollars from traditional TV advertising to digital platforms, it doesn't raise many eyebrows. After all digital advertising comprises a larger share of the advertising industry every day as video, audio, and print migrate onto our ubiquitous mobile screens. But when a venerable brand like Sears pulls its TV advertising (and during the holidays at that), one has to wonder what marketers might have been thinking.

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While shifting some ad dollars to digital might be a good idea, for a brand like Sears to actually cease all TV advertising right before the all-important holiday shopping season could mean that the company is running out of cash. After all it has been closing underperforming stores for years, and still has the languishing Kmart brand to worry about.

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But digital ads are far cheaper than TV overall, and it is certainly possible that Sears marketers believe that they could get as much "bang for the buck" by switching to digital. Indeed as Sears has reduced traditional media expenditures (namely TV and radio) by almost two-thirds since 2011, at the same time it has ramped up spending on digital, which has by-passed newspapers but not yet TV in terms of total marketing budget spending. Will Sears give up on newspaper and TV entirely? One thing is for sure, Sears marketers will have to get very good at digital very quickly to stop the collapse of the brand.


Discussion: Do you think that Sears can turn things around? What sorts of digital tactics would you use to promote the brand?