Eddie Bauer Launches New Interactive Effort

Troubled specialty retailer Eddie Bauer is turning to the Web to carry a large part of its campaign to launch its fall line and new brand identity, with ads appearing on the home pages of major Web portals.

In its first large-scale campaign since the 90’s, the retailer is looking to rejigger the retailer’s brand positioning while driving sales for its new suede line. The online work, handled by Seattle-based strategic and media buying agency Avenue A with executions by White Horse, borrows from Mullen’s outdoorsy-themed, offline ads for the retailer.

Through September, rich media “takeover” ads will run on Ask Jeeves, Weather.com, About.com, and the Excite Network’s Excite.com and iWon.com. The ads — in United Virtualities’ Shoshkeles format — play folk music and show wide-open farmland and mountains, and floating pictures of models wearing Seattle Suede coats and jackets.

Copy reads: “Wash. Wear. Live. Repeat. Introducing Seattle Suede. Washable.”

Spending was not disclosed for the online effort, which sources say represents a sizable portion of Eddie Bauer’s $12 million spending on the on- and offline ads.

The rustic imagery and music are meant to evoke Eddie Bauer’s roots as a seller of outdoors-wear, and comes as the company, which also has offices in Seattle, aims to rebound after a tumultuous year of plummeting sales and corporate woes.

In early June, shares of Eddie Bauer’s parent, The Spiegel Group, were delisted from Nasdaq when the conglomerate failed to file its annual report on time, as it sought to shore up $1.3 billion in credit facilities and problems at its consumer banking unit. Additionally, Eddie Bauer went for seven months without a chief executive following an abrupt resignation early this year. (In July, Spiegel appointed former H&M executive Fabian Mansson to the post.)

While hunting for a CEO, Spiegel began a sweeping overhaul at Eddie Bauer, its chief retail division, in an effort to play down the unit’s business-dress and casual lines while concentrating on more rugged, outdoors products.

Accordingly, that new brand identity — centered around the company as a purveyor of outdoors-wear — will be borne out in the retailer’s new ads.

“By continually pushing the envelope in online advertising, Avenue A and White Horse have proven the valuable role the Internet plays as part of the marketing mix,” said Jodi Watson, Eddie Bauer’s director of online marketing and customer acquisition. “We are thrilled to be launching a fully integrated online and offline marketing brand campaign that recaptures the spirit and heritage that has long defined Eddie Bauer.”

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