Ivana Trump helps Zellers attract discount shoppers

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TORONTO -- Major Canadian retailer Zellers has kicked off its biggest campaign "in years" with celebrity Ivana Trump, seven TV spots and a new focus on mothers, the discount chain's core shoppers.

New creative for the 350-store national chain runs to October, highlighting low prices and what Zellers calls "sweeping changes"-- including revamped stores and new specialty lines, among them Cherokee apparel and Martha Stewart Everyday.

In one of the TV ads from Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, glamorous Ms. Trump drops by while a mother and kids are at home chatting about shopping.

Appearing in another Zellers spot is soap opera actor Eric Braeden, well known for playing Victor Newman on the daytime show The Young and the Restless.

Support comes from outdoor and nine million new-look householder flyers, mostly done inhouse.

Zellers hopes the new effort will change long-held consumer notions of the discount chain, which has lost ground to competitor Wal-Mart Canada over recent years.

"It's a very fresh approach to advertising," says Zellers Marketing VP Peter Housley. "I think the humor [in it] is great. The use of some of the celebrities is wonderful. We're getting great feedback and sales are booming."

Spending wasn't disclosed. It's the first major effort for Hudson's Bay Co.-owned Zellers since the chain bought K-Mart Canada six months ago.

Included in the fall campaign is a five-week contest aimed at further positioning the chain with "busy, value-conscious Canadian families." Called "A Van Would be Good," the promotion will see the retailer give away 125 new 1999 Chrysler minivans by September 13.

Zellers says it's the largest-ever give-away in Canadian retailing.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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