08/01/2017 12:06 EDT | Updated 08/01/2017 12:09 EDT

Sears Canada Execs Targeted By Ad Campaign's Toilet Humour

“Don’t flush your reputation down the toilet.”

If activist group Leadnow has its way, Sears Canada execs at the company's Toronto headquarters will soon be looking at ads of their company's logo being flushed down the toilet.

Leadnow has launched a campaign to pressure Sears Canada into paying severance to the 2,900 people the company laid off when it filed for creditor protection last month.

As part of the campaign, the activist group has bought digital ad space in restaurants and bars near Sears Canada's headquarters in downtown Toronto. The ads, which launch on Tuesday, plead with Sears Canada execs not to to flush the company's reputation "down the toilet."

"Now, when Sears executives are out for lunch or an after-work drink, they'll be reminded that mistreating employees puts their brand at risk," Leadnow campaigner Jolan Bailey said in a statement.

Sears angered many consumers with its decision to hold back severance pay — something an employer is able to do when under creditor protection — while at the same time offering $9.2 million in retention bonuses to a handful of senior staff.

"Running a business is all about choices and priorities — and paying out bonuses to executives, while denying even limited severance to laid off workers, is a choice," Leadnow states on its "Fairness for Sears Workers" campaign page.

"If we create a big public outcry, we can embarrass the company into giving laid off workers a fairer deal."Leadnow, on its Sears Canada campaign page

Sears has argued the bonuses are needed to keep key employees working during a difficult transition. The company hopes to emerge from creditor protection in the fall.

The launch of liquidation sales at more than 50 Sears Canada locations across the country earlier this month was met with calls to boycott the company, under the hashtag #boycottsearscanada.

But some retail experts say a boycott of Sears Canada could backfire — after all, the company still employs some 14,000 people in Canada, and they would lose their jobs if it went under entirely.

"I'm afraid people aren't thinking logically right now, they're thinking emotionally," Retail Advisors Network co-founder Bruce Winder told Global News.

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