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The Chicago Tribune reports that Sears Holdings CEO Edward Lampert, trying to cut costs, is looking to sever ties with possibly the company’s highest profile celebrity endorser after Martha Stewart – Bob Vila.

“Sears Holdings Corp. has terminated a long-standing contract with Vila to act as a spokesman for Sears' Craftsman tool line,” the Tribune writes. “It also has dumped its sponsorship of his nationally syndicated home remodeling show.

“Vila has sued, charging Sears wrongfully breached the contracts, and is seeking more than $14 million in damages. Sears is countersuing Vila and says he has been paid more than he was due. The suit is headed for trial in October.”

Vila’s multi-million dollar contract was scheduled to end in 2009.
KC's View:
As is always the case in such matters, the only sure winners in all this will be the lawyers.

It is hard from reading the various positions as reported by the Tribune who has the upper hand in this case. But one thing seems obvious – that Fast Eddie Lampert is more concerned with the immediate bottom line than long-term celebrity endorsements, and that he will do anything possible to cut costs.

Now, we’re not qualified to judge the legal case, nor do we have any idea if Sears/Kmart is better off without Vila than with him – and vice versa. But we are fairly sure that this reflects a broader problem for Sears/Kmart – the fact that Lampert may well be managing the company without regard for marketing concerns, but only with an eye on the bottom line.

There’s an old saying – you can’t save your way to prosperity. But maybe Fast Eddie isn’t paying attention, or maybe nobody has the guts to tell him.