MERVYN'S STORES KICK OFF NEW BRANDING EFFORT

$15 Million Campaign Comes as Rival Kohl's Enters Market

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Target Corp.'s Mervyn's department stores is launching an estimated $15 million branding campaign this month to counter the opening of 28 stores in Southern California by rival Kohl's.

The effort, from independent agency Venables, Bell & Partners, San Francisco, begins with four humorous spots all intended to show how the store offers big brands at small prices. In one spot, a woman redecorates her living room, at one point even removing and replacing the shirt worn by her husband, who sits on the couch watching TV through the remodeling.

Shopping bag visual
Two additional Mervyn's spots

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in the series back specific products, such as one featuring a pair of cargo pants, noting its pockets mean nothing if there is no money left to put in them. At the end of all the new commercials, a Mervyn's shopping bag pops full with boxes much the way a bag of popcorn might fill up in a microwave.

The campaign, which starts to roll out in Southern California, "is the continuation of a strategy which goes back 54 years," said Lee Walker-DeSarvide, vice president of marketing for Mervyn's. She would not describe the effort as one intended to combat Kohl's entrance into the market.

Blitzing Southern California
Whatever the reason, the campaign comes as Kohl's, a hot discount chain, continues its foray out West. Kohl's, which spends more than $300 million annually on advertising nationally, has been blitzing the Southern California market since January. Spending was undisclosed. But stores have been groomed to appeal the area's more than 6 million Hispanic consumers.

Other agencies handling Mervyn’s include Interpublic Group of Cos.' Suissa Miller and Dentsu's Colby & Partners, both Los Angeles.

Mervyn's, which is based in Hayward, Calif., spent $101 million in measured media for the first 11 months of 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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