How Kmart and Sears Looked to Promotional Products to Launch Their Retail Comeback
Everyone loves a good comeback story. Bill Feldberg, chief marketing officer for Something Inked, Nashville, Tenn., recalls a promotional products campaign he did with Sears and Kmart—two former retail titans now looking to revitalize their brands and reinvent themselves for the new world of retail—that felt especially personal and successful. For more from Bill, check out his Promo Marketing Podcast episode on all-things branded footwear, or his behind-the-scenes look at pro sports playoff promotions.
Promo Marketing: Could you tell us about a promotion you thought was one of your best?
Bill Feldberg: While the article is My Best Promotion, we really do everything as a team at Something Inked, so our best promo of recent times would be the project we just did with Sears and Kmart. They have been clients of ours for years now, and while many experts in and out of the industry wrote them off to bankruptcy or financial trouble, we understand what’s it like to be written off and need options to continue operating. So when they came to us recently and said they needed 40,000 polo shirts, 40,000 T-shirts, 500 tumblers, 500 hats and 500 tote bags for each of their 425 stores, we said, “Sure, let’s figure this out.”
We went to Hit Promotional Products, alphabroder, Prime Line and American Ad Bag and worked out deals with all of them to assist, as without the supplier support this task would not have been able to be done (and done on time). Todd Schneiderman, our vice president of sales, and Jason Rockhill, our vice president of client services, worked tirelessly with the client to get all the stores distributed correctly. David Schneiderman, our vice president of vendor relations, and Joe Ferrara, our director of finance, worked with the suppliers to set up terms, given the size of the orders and the amount at stake, and then the rest of us supported everyone however we could, whether it was following up on production, shipping, etc.
It was not an easy task, with over 80,000 garments going to 425-plus locations broken down by specific size requests per location, and then the 500 each of the hats, tumblers and totes all needing to be sent to 425 locations and cities dropped on the imprint as well.
PM: What did you like about this promotion in particular?
BF: It was a great project. A lot of work, but in the end the client was thrilled, and we helped them launch their rebranding and re-opening of all of their locations. As they continue to rebuild and regain their position in their market, we will be right there with them helping on future projects. We love helping people beat the odds, so the complexity of this project—the many moving parts with over 425 locations and ship-to’s—was a task in itself, let alone all the various components. We always tell new clients, when you are in the worst spot and don’t think anybody else will be able to help you, this is where we shine, so call us and we’ll figure out what others cannot or will not.
PM: Do you have any advice for promotional products distributors looking to do something similar?
BF: That’s a tough question, as without the right resources and capabilities, this project could have been a disaster for many, including us. I would say before taking on a project like this, really look at what is needed and who can best help, and have some contingency plans in case things go wrong, as they will go wrong.