Zellers is facing its imminent demise in a typically Canadian way — with humour.
Zeddy, the long-familiar mascot of retail chain Zellers, is — like pretty much all Zellers employees — looking for a new job.
In a series of tongue-in-cheek videos, the teddy bear who featured in numerous Zellers ads over the years and decades is driven to the woods, told he has been let go, and left to fend for himself in the wilderness.
The first ad shows Zeddy being driven out to the woods by Zellers’ “executive managing director.”
“There you go buddy, you’re free now,” the ostensible exec says as Zeddy gets out of a pickup truck in the woods. “Zellers is liquidating. Everything must go. That includes you. We both have to move on."
A visibly surprised Zeddy responds: “Are you letting me go?”
“Go on, get out there, see the world,” the exec responds. “Maybe you’ll even find your family.”
“My family lives in Sarnia,” the bear responds. “You picked me up from their house this afternoon...”
In a follow-up video, Zeddy is seen wandering alone through the woods, making a “friend” by sticking two tree branches onto a tin can, and finally being attacked by … something … in the woods at night.
On its Facebook page, Zellers is urging customers to “adopt Zeddy,” asking people to submit 750-word essays on why they would be the best person to take care of the unemployed bear.
Behind the ads is the sobering reality of Zellers’ closure next year, 82 years after the chain opened its first store in southern Ontario. The chain’s 162 stores will close next year; many of them are already being renovated into Target locations.
Some of the company’s employees have been embroiled in a conflict with Target Canada over the incoming retailer’s decision not to keep on any Zellers employees in their new locations.
In documents filed with the B.C. Labour Relations Board, Target Canada made it clear it wants nothing to do with the struggling Zellers, its image, its employees — or even its customer lists.
When the business community sees you that negatively, humorous ads may be all that’s left to you.