IAB Canada’s Video Spotlight – November 2014 – #MyBrotherWorksAtSears

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Sears Canada
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It’s been rough going for Sears over the past few years. While Sears was the darling of the catalog era, the retailer has had a harder time moving into the digital age. And yet, Sears Canada has kept its humor.

In the Sears Canada’s latest campaign, #MyBrotherWorksAtSears, the retailer plays up the connection between one of its long-time employees, Peter Myers, and his famous sibling, comedian Mike Myers, while addressing these critical issues that the retailer is facing.

In the campaign, Mike Myers drops by Sears Canada’s headquarters, where his older brother works as the VP of Women’s and Children’s Wear, to address rumors that the store is going away. Peter Myers, who has worked for Sears Canada for 32 years, tells him that he should know not to believe everything he reads in the papers (cue Mike addressing the falsehood that he is on an alien sex diet).

Getting back to the topic at hand – whether or not Sears Canada is done for – Peter asks Mike if he knows anything about the retail business, to which he replies:

“Not a lot. Just that Sears Canada has to demographically and psychographically alter the trajectory of its business model. But that would just be a wild guess.”

This kind of self-aware dialogue continues throughout the minute long video before Mike is asked to sign off the ad with the brand’s tagline, which is no longer “come see the softer side of Sears.”

Directed by Bryan Buckley from Hungry Man – the production company, not the frozen food brand —the ad has garnered 1.4 million views since its release on November 6.

While humor is a common device used in branded video, it is less common to see a brand confront its struggles so openly in its advertising.

These struggles are well documented in the business press: the retailer has lost customers and market share to rivals Target, Wal-Mart, and Amazon; many stores have been closed and employees let go; Sears Holding has been breaking apart over the few years in order to raise cash; and most of the holding company’s stake in Sears Canada was sold to Sears CEO Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund.

But this ad addresses the issues that Sears Canada has been facing head on, echoing the sentiment of Sears Canada’s interim CEO Ronald Boire, its fourth CEO in three years, when he told the Financial Post, “We aren’t going anywhere.”

It’s a bold move, but one that was necessary given the approaching holiday season. While other retailers will release campaigns promoting sales or spouting Christmas cheer, it was more important for Sears to let their customers know that its doors are open and its ready to take, and deliver, on that holiday wish list.

The choice to use humor was inspired, as it is unexpected and, thus, newsworthy. A newsworthy campaign is one that reporters will write about – and they did – and viewers will share with their friends and family, consequently extending the reach of the message.