Sears pulls Benetton apparel line over ads

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Sears, Roebuck & Co., reacting to a protest at its Houston store as well as customer complaints, is pulling its line of Benetton USA apparel. Sears said it "strongly objected" to the "We on Death Row" Benetton ad effort, which included photos and interviews of convicted killers. "When Sears became aware of the campaign, the company immediately objected strongly to the advertising and began reviewing its legal options regarding its contract with Benetton," the retailer said in a statement. Benetton, however, ignored the objection and continued with the effort, the work of Creative Director Oliviero Toscani, for its overall Benetton brand. Sears at one point asked for and received a right of refusal over future Benetton advertising, one executive familiar with the situation said. Sears last fall launched its Benetton designed line in 400 stores with the intention of improving its appeal to younger customers. Sears executives earlier indicated the line was selling well, citing difficulty in keeping product on the shelves. Sears did little advertising of its own to promote the line, focusing instead on window displays and in store promotions.

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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