The History of Sears

Vintage Sears Ads

Sears was started in 1886 by Richard Sears. Just two years later the company released its first ad, The Sears Catalogue. Printed by the W.B. Conkey Company in Indiana, the Sears Catalogue ran each year until 1993 when the company chose to focus on multiple specialty catalogues instead. These specialty catalogues promote product categories such as auto accessories, tools, clothing and home improvement.

From the beginning, Sears has had an understanding of the importance of keeping customers happy, and has had a knack for including copy in each of its catalogues and advertisements that appeals to the target consumer. Sears has also always understood the helpfulness of hands-on interaction.

In 1905, Sears catalogues included paint and wallpaper samples as well as men’s suit material samples. In the early years, Sears advertised primarily to Farmers, and the company worked to make the direct mail catalogue copy to speak directly to the target and their needs.

Richard Sears has been touted as a master of catchy phrases and slogans. He knew exactly what title to use on each catalogue issue to get the most customers to open the cover. In the beginning, the Sears Catalogue advertised the company’s products as “cheap”, however the company has recently been marketing the “quality” of their products.

1993 introduced the advertising campaign “Come See the Softer Side of Sears,” which promoted the quality and comfort of Sears’ products. In 1999, Sears leaned back on its advertising roots by introducing its “The Good Life at a Great Price” campaign, which mirrors its earlier “Cheap” campaign.

In 1998, Sears introduced a new product website: Wishbook.com, which brought back the Sears Catalogue in an online format. One year later, Sears launched a company website: Sears.com.

Current advertising for Sears is handled by advertising agency Young & Rubicam, a member of the WPP group. Recently, Sears has partnered with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington. Their partnership not only includes advertising, but also includes merchandising, product design and development, and support for the Sears Community Outreach initiatives.

Earlier this year, Sears also introduced a campaign aimed primarily at men. The ads promoted tools and home appliances sold at Sears’ stores and online, including name brands like Craftsmen tools. Smartly, the campaign sponsored the NFL season – each game being sponsored by a specific brand sold at Sears.

Over one-hundred years after its beginnings, Sears continues to strive to make their target audience content through keeping its products and advertisements clear, concise and geared directly towards consumers.


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~ by americanapersona on May 7, 2008.

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