MARSHALLS' NEW MARSHA CARRIES BRAND MESSAGE:IMAGE ADS AIM TO END RETAILER'S DEPENDENCE ON PROMOTING SALES

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Marshalls is enlisting an animated shopper as the centerpiece of a new multimillion-dollar image campaign.

The off-price retailer broke advertising last week starring "Marsha," an animated character whose voice is that of comedian Tracey Ullman.

The retailer, with 490 stores in 38 states, decided to launch an image campaign to break away from promotional offerings that cut into its bottom line.

In past years, Marshalls was forced to promote sales because of pressure from one-day sales at department stores and the growth of other off-price competitors.

LIMITING SALE ITEMS

Marshalls will now limit sales only to the clearance of inventory, said Senior VP-Marketing and Sales Promotion George Sokolowski, adding that frequent sales "proved very counter-productive to the image of the company and its brand equity, and was reflected in a period of relatively poor performance."

`BRAND NAMES FOR LESS'

Marshalls hopes Marsha can revive a message of brand names at good prices. The ads from Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and Olive Jar Animation, both Boston, end with the tag, "Brand names for less. Every day."

One 30-second spot has Marsha saying, "I don't want brands I've never heard of. I don't want to wait for sales. I don't want prices that scare me."

Advertising is running on spot TV and will be accompanied by print ads featuring specific items and prices. Marshalls spends $15 million to $20 million annually on all its advertising.

Marshalls, a former division of Melville Corp., was bought by TJX Cos. in November. TJX manages off-price chain T.J. Maxx and hopes it can help rejuvenate Marshalls.

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