Sears' new strategy: Web 2.0

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Sears' latest marketing campaign doesn't just celebrate the holiday season — it's also pretty upbeat about Web 2.0's potential as a marketing strategy.

The company's integrated campaign, which was unveiled last week, includes a holiday-themed social networking site, launched in collaboration with Yahoo, and uses widgets and text messaging to alert customers of sales.

“The online space continues to offer new and exciting ways to interact in a meaningful way with our customers,” said Richard Gerstein, SVP and CMO of Sears, in a statement.

On the whole, the campaign is “more diversified,” Gerstein said, and will consist of national TV and radio spots, magazine inserts for jewelry and tools, increased online media, new Sears.com functionality, sweepstakes, direct mail, circulars and catalogs.

However, the Internet will play a significant role. “Sears will have a much larger online presence this holiday,” Gerstein said.

The theme of this year's holiday campaign is built around the return of the Sears holiday Wish Book, with the idea of granting wishes being featured throughout. The tagline is “Don't just give a gift, grant a wish.”

Last year, Sears launched a holiday microsite targeted at moms with editorial content, gift ideas and a question-and-answer forum.

On November 5, Sears and Yahoo launched a social space that features rankings for gift ideas, the use of Yahoo's Answers feature to resolve gift-giving dilemmas, and the ability to share videos and photos of gift-giving reactions.

Sears has also created a new promotion called Wishing Hours, which begins November 19 and features special deals with limited-time availability in-store and online. Customers can download a Wishing Hours widget to their desktops or request to be notified via e-mail or text messaging about the deals by registering at www.sears.com/wishes. Visitors can also enter a Wishing Hours Sweepstakes.

Sears will also highlight the expansion of its site-to-store program, which will add curbside service after Thanksgiving on qualified purchases. 

The Sears Web site has other new features for the holiday season, including a new gift-finder element that offers recommendations by personality, product category or price range; new Wish List functionality and a gift list for children called Letters for Santa.

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