Ginger Deer and The Property Brothers: How Lowe's Will Double Down on Digital This Holiday

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Lowe's is building up its social initiatives to better connect with consumers this holiday season and gain on rivals. On Nov. 19, the home improvement store will host a Facebook Live event to promote its Black Friday deal offerings. Working with HGTV's Drew and Jonathan Scott, the "Property Brothers," Lowe's plans to feature a Mystery Box Bonanza that will break through the clutter of retail discounts.

"The Facebook Live piece is a unique way to engage customers around what we have to offer in the social space around Black Friday and target those customers who already have an affinity for the Lowe's brand," said Marci Grebstein, chief marketing officer at the Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer. "The thing about Facebook Live is that you have to be somewhat entertaining—you can't just have a spokesperson stand up and list prices—you have to be creative."

A teaser trailer for the 10 p.m. event that ran earlier this month has already garnered 1.4 million views, Ms. Grebstein noted.

In addition, Lowe's will push out a video on Monday called "Ginger Deer." A long-form, emotional video similar to the 2,355-unit chain's "House Love" offering in the spring, the two-minute story tells the tale of a gingerbread man whose antlers, accidentally melded to his head in the oven, make him an oddity. After a series of adventures and rejections, the ginger-deer is eventually accepted into the larger gingerbread man community. "The best part of the holidays is feeling at home," reads the final screen of the spot, which was created with BBDO New York.

"Given where the world is today, we think it's a really important message," said Ms. Grebstein. She noted that Lowe's will also market DIY, holiday-related content on social media in coming weeks.

The brand has been ramping up its digital efforts through new avenues like Facebook and online-only video content, while pulling back on print.

"We've worked to reduce our print advertising and expand our presence on social media and increase digital advertising, including digital display, online video and search," said Michael McDermott, who was elevated to chief customer officer from chief merchandising officer in October, on a conference call last week.

Lowe's spent $49.1 million on measured media in the U.S. between November and December last year, according to Kantar Media. Ms. Grebstein declined to specify how this year's holiday budget compares.

The company recently reported third-quarter earnings of $379 million, a 49% drop over the year earlier period, and revenue of $15.73 billion, which missed analyst expectations. Lowe's executives attributed a same-store sales gain of 2.7% -- less than rival Home Depot's 5.5% increase —to slowed store traffic in August and September.

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