Sears returns to big TV promos via game shows

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In its biggest prize promotion tie-in ever, Sears, Roebuck & Co. will join with two of the highest-rated shows in syndicated TV--"Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!"--in a sweepstakes worth $3 million.

It marks the return to big-time TV promotions for Sears, which previously has worked with both CBS and NBC in major fall promotions.


John Costello, Sears' senior exec VP-marketing, called the promotion "unprecedented" for the retailer, noting that it has never partnered with two individual TV shows before.

For Sony Corp.'s Columbia TriStar Television group, which produces the shows and put the deal together, "It's a way to help keep these shows on top as well as helping a major advertising partner," said Andy Kaplan, exec VP.

The Sears "Play to Win!" sweepstakes kicks off Feb. 15, when consumers can pick up entry forms in Sears stores, via free-standing inserts in newspapers or on the Sears Web site. There also will be entry forms in TV Guide.

There will be a $1 million winner chosen for the week of Feb. 15 and one for the week of Feb. 22. In addition, Sears will award $500 in gift certificates to winners at each of its 1,763 stores.


The promotion "delivers the message that Sears is a fun and compelling place to shop," said Mr. Costello. "The $1 million [prize] is very much the equivalent of winning the lottery, courtesy of your local Sears store."

He said the target audience of the two syndicated TV programs is similar to the stores' target: women 25 to 54 and their families.

The sweepstakes involves puzzles in the "Wheel of Fortune" manner and questions/responses, a la "Jeopardy!" Clues will be given over the air during the shows.

A teaser campaign backing the promotion will run Feb. 9-13, with ads running in-store and in ad circulars.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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