AHLERS PROMOTION TO HASTEN DAYTON'S BRAND IMAGE OVERHAUL

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New department-store CEO Linda Ahlers will likely accelerate Dayton Hudson Corp.'s drive to rebuild the brand identities of its stores following years of price promotion.

Ms. Ahlers, who was promoted from exec VP-merchandising, replaced Stephen Watson last week as CEO of the division. The 64-chain division includes Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's, and didn't perform well in 1995, with comparable-store sales down 0.8%.

REBUILDING IN SPRING CAMPAIGN

The quest to rebuild brand identities is evident in this year's spring campaign, which broke late last month via Martin/Williams, Minneapolis.

The advertising features two 30-second TV spots highlighting seasonal trends rather than price points, with the tag, "Spring view. Your first look at what's new."

The new campaign "is a sign of the retailer positioning [itself] as more upscale and less promotional," said Jordan McElwain, VP-management supervisor at Martin/Williams. "This is the first time the department store division has done broadcast announcing seasonal trends."

WATSON MOVE EASES CHANGE

Mr. Watson's resignation will make it easier for Robert Ulrich, chairman of Dayton Hudson Corp. and its Target Stores, to make the changes needed to renew images among consumers.

Ms. Ahlers should speed up the division's process of becoming a more upscale retailer that focuses on service.

The change at the top will mean agencies will still be competing on a project-by-project basis for pieces of the division's estimated $70 million ad budget.

The division doesn't have an agency of record, but in the past has used shops including McConnaughy Stein Schmidt Brown, Chicago; and Clarity Coverdale Fury and Kruskopf Olsen, both Minneapolis.

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