Big Lots CMO Pushes 'Feisty' New Holiday Anthem

Former Kmart CMO Andrew Stein Takes New Approach to Marketing Discount Retailer

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Big Lots is hoping to "nail" the holidays with a provocative new TV spot, "Nailing This," aimed at adding a little fun to the shopping season.

The campaign was led by CMO Andrew Stein, who became known for his well-placed puns at Kmart with campaigns like "Big Gas Savings," and "Ship My Pants." Mr. Stein brought that energy with him when he joined Big Lots last fall. This holiday season, he's using cheeky messaging and catchy tunes to appeal to consumers, particulary women.

"We're really trying to create a new edge in the work that we do that shows we're feisty and we're different," said Mr. Stein. "We've honed in, since I've been here, on who our customer is."

Big Lots wanted the spot to articulate what consumers are thinking, in order to best demonstrate the retailer's new customer focus. "There's nothing funnier and fresher than the truth when it's done in a big way," said Tom O'Keefe, co-founder and CEO of O'Keefe, Reinhard & Paul, Big Lots' agency of record.

Mr. Stein said his work at Big Lots uses more than puns to get consumers' attention, stopping short of calling Kmart a one-trick pony.

"At Kmart, we were playing with naughty words," said Mr. Stein, explaining that Kmart's campaigns were meant to change the perception of the brand. "Big Lots is a fun and exciting retailer … it's very much about getting work out that reflects that."

Music is a big part of Big Lots strategy to reach consumers. The holiday ad stars NBC's "America's Got Talent" finalist Deanna DellaCioppa singing a "big brassy" song. After hearing "Nailing This" countless times, Mr. Stein said he still finds himself humming along with the spot when its on TV in the morning, as he gets ready for work.

Mr. Stein declined to comment on the budget for this year's holiday campaign, though he said it is in line with previous holiday seasons.

Big Lots annual measured media spend grew slightly last year, up 3% to $42 million, according to Kantar Media. The retailer has also been shifting more of its budget to the holiday season, fourth quarter spending was up 12% last year, compared to a year ago.

Big Lots' holiday campaign features four spots, including "Nailing This," an ad for the Hispanic market, a Black Friday ad and an ad focused on gift-giving that will air in December. The campaign also includes digital and social elements. O'Keefe, Reinhard & Paul handled creative, while Havas handled public relations and media.