Kenmore is revamping its image with a new logo, product line and website to connect with today’s consumer. As part of an integrated marketing campaign, the 90-year-old brand is stepping out of Sears stores and into a former art gallery it has transformed into the Kenmore Live Studio, where it showcases new products and delivers top-notch experiences that are streamed live on facebook.com/kenmore.
Creating an immersive experience of this magnitude is a first for Kenmore, which has picked a location in the hip Chicago River North neighborhood, which attracts trendsetters with its vibrant art and restaurant scene. Rather than setting up shop in a mall as might be expected of an appliance brand, Kenmore throws celebrity cook-offs and other cool events from Thursday to Sunday.
“We wanted to disrupt people’s perception of this brand, so we chose a neighborhood and space that would make them think differently about Kenmore,” says John Timmons, director of marketing at Kenmore.
Though Kenmore’s marketing efforts include traditional advertising as well, experiential and social media are playing key roles in reshaping its brand image. “The types of communications that really cut through the clutter and are believable are ground-up communications,” Timmons says. “It’s consumers sharing their opinions with their peers and discovering things on their own either through an online or live experience.”
At the Kenmore Live Studio, which Timmons claims folks are calling the Apple store for appliances, there’s a great deal to experience on site and share online. When consumers first sign in they’re asked to consent to being recorded since the studio is equipped with cameras to broadcast online. During that process, Kenmore takes the opportunity to collect personal information (name, email and zip code) to build a database for follow up.
Once inside, guests can check out Kenmore products atop pedestals reminiscent of sculpture displays at an art gallery. Or, wander into specialty stations, including the Stain Station where people, especially kids, can blast the brand’s mascot, a mime named Kenny More, with jets filled with colored dyes. After the adrenaline rush, visitors can grab a beverage and surf the web at the Kenmore Live Café, or peruse design books by Versace, Christian Dior and others. Near the café is the Kenmore Soap Box, an enclosed area with a video camera where people can contribute their thoughts and ideas about the brand.
Four times a week, chefs and celebrities do Food Network-type cooking shows using Kenmore products. On opening night, Kenmore invited “Top Chef” season four winner, Stephanie Izard, to share her cooking tips and food with guests. Once a week it also airs its original laundry-based soap opera called “Dirty Laundry.”
Though there are nine brand ambassadors on the floor daily to answer any product questions, there’s no selling at the studio; it’s all about showing customers a good time. On April 16, Kenmore hosted Hard Rock Café executive chef Michael Sullivan, a punk rock fashion show and live concerts to promote its line of sewing machines. Leading up to the event, two fashion models rode around the city in a vintage white Rolls-Royce passing out invitations. On a regular basis, Kenmore sends out a scooter squad dressed in chef outfits to pass out promo materials on branded Segways.
With no closing date in sight, Kenmore plans to continue throwing events throughout the year. “We see this as a learning lab to gather insights as we move forward, so right now we have no plans to shut down as long as interest is high,” says Timmons. More power to you! (Agencies: Suite Partners Inc., Chicago; Ice Factor, Chicago.) EM