#TBT: Sears Hammered Home Craftsman's Ad Message

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As part of its fight for survival, Sears sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million, ending 90 years of near exclusivity of Craftsman products. But the sale, along with news that another 150 Sears and Kmart stores will be axed, may do little to staunch the bleeding as the retailer struggles to compete in an ever-changing retail environment in which some bankruptcies are anticipated later this year.

The Craftsman brand, founded in 1927, can be found in many Amercian toolkits, given its consistent marketing presence for decades. (Sears tapped Havas three years ago to handle the brand's creative duties.)

Below, we highlight some of Craftsman's most memorable commercials over the years.

Sears Craftsman Lawnmower, 1971

In order to market its new Eager-1 lawn mower, Craftsman aired its first live-television commercial during a college basketball game. "Eager mowers, sold only at Sears. They start, cut grass, and last," says a spokesman in the 60-second spot. But the mower, which promises to start on the first try ever try, may have been a bit camera-shy. It took several attempts of commercials over the next few weeks before the mower was able to consistently start on the first try.

Sears Craftsman, 1985

The 30-second spot touts the breadth of Craftsman products—including gas grills, lawnmowers, and saws—and the extent of savings. The commercial touts the retailer's tagline, "There's more for your life at Sears."

Sears Craftsman, 1989

One of the earliest debuts of Sears spokesman Bob Vila, home improvement expert and former host of "This Old House," the 60-second commercial shows Mr. Vila speaking about the American tradition of do-it-yourself, a trend that is still prominent today.

Sears Craftsman Tools, 1992

This Christmas commercial showcases Asheville, N.C., store associate Bud Dotson extoling the virtues of Sears as the only place for a variety of Craftsman products. "You can count on me," he says.

Sears Craftsman Auto Lock, 1997

Bob Vila's back, this time promoting the Craftsman auto-lock pliers for $19.99, used by plumbers and whole families alike.

Sears Craftsman Cordless Drill, 1999

For that "kid named Dad," consider the cordless drill, says this 15-second spot. But don't forget the safety goggles. Dad might still be a kid, but that's no excuse for those dance moves.

Sears Craftsman Thin-profile Ratchet, 2002

Bob Vila continued his spokesman run through the 2000s, though reports that financially-strapped retailer's planned to end the multimillion dollar relationship emerged in 2006.

Sears Craftsman Heated Jacket, 2016

Pop-up text and animation to illustrate the attributes of Craftsman's new battery chargeable, heated jackets show just how far Sears has come with the brand's spots over the last 50 years. But how sad are those coatless fools at the ice hockey game?

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