Nordstrom breaks with traditional media plan

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Nordstrom reinvents itself in its first national TV push.

The $40 million print, broadcast and outdoor campaign-the retailer's largest ever-comes as the department store chain is faced with lagging sales, weak stock prices and stiff competition. The campaign from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, also represents a significant shift for Nordstrom, which primarily had used spot market advertising to back store openings.

Tagged "Reinvent yourself," the campaign began in mid-February with ads in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Guerrilla marketing tactics include Los Angeles trash cans with letters that read "I want to be a trash compactor" and coffee cups in New York sporting "I want to be a teacup" or "I want to be a demitasse."

Four TV spots, breaking Feb. 21, will run in prime-time programs that attract young women, such as "Friends" and "Ally McBeal."


Nordstrom has added a bevy of new magazine buys to its roster, including Fast Company, Food & Wine and Outside. The retailer also is stepping up its presence in Essence and Latina.

In addition, Nordstrom won't be talking about its key brand attribute, customer service, in its marketing push.

"We never do," said Linda Finn, VP-marketing director for Nordstrom's full-line stores. According to Ms. Finn, the strategy is to draw customers to the store, then "delight and surprise them."

"They're the standard bearer on service in the industry," said a marketing executive at a major retailer. But customer service is "expensive to maintain. They're on a treadmill."


Nordstrom also has kept itself out of the price discounting and multiple sales scene, which has hurt the bottom lines of other retailers. By sticking with its policy of two semiannual sales each year, however, the executive said, Nordstrom is losing customers to competitors such as Bloomingdale's.

Nordstrom's latest earnings figures, for the third quarter ended in November, showed weak sales growth with sales at stores open more than one year down 1.9%. Nordstrom's stock, trading in the past year at a high in the 40s, is now hovering in the 20s.

Nordstrom's reinvention process actually began about two years ago when it ventured online.

"When we started to launch the Internet site, we realized there was an important opportunity to maximize Nordstrom as a brand in all the channels that we are in," Ms. Finn said.

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