GM's Adams joins: Home Depot hires tradition-breaker

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Home Depot's hiring of a top marketer from General Motors Corp. underscores its efforts to broaden its customer base and the range of marketing channels it uses to reach them.

The retailer last week appointed Roger W. Adams as senior VP-marketing, reporting to John Costello, exec VP-merchandising and marketing. His arrival will likely accelerate Home Depot's growth in nontraditional marketing, efforts that recently have included an increased focus on Nascar and Olympic sponsorships and tie-ins with entertainment programs such as home-improvement shows including "Trading Spaces" and "While You Were Out" on TLC.

"Roger's skills in that area will be very valuable," Mr. Costello said. Mr. Adams, 48, was formerly GM's executive director-corporate advertising, marketing and CRM.

nontraditional

He joins Home Depot on Feb. 7 and will be responsible for marketing, advertising, brand management and event marketing. The retailer spends around $500 million annually on traditional marketing, according to CMR.

Under Mr. Adams' watch, GM increased its spending on nontraditional marketing, including a multimillion-dollar Pontiac giveaway on the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that gave cars to all members of the studio audience.

Mr. Adams' appointment spins out some of the duties Mr. Costello had assumed after he arrived at Home Depot in November 2002 and consolidated marketing and merchandising functions in 2003 as part of the chain's efforts to improve its stores and shopping experience. Mr. Costello expects Mr. Adams will be "a strong partner working with me." He noted that while there are four senior VPs of merchandising-one for each major product line-reporting to him, there was no similar structure on the marketing side to execute the retailer's strategy.

`"You can do it, we can help' is working ... this will enable us to accelerate our efforts," Mr. Costello said, referring to the chain's tagline.

The retailer has focused on revamping stores, improving customer service and upgrading marketing since CEO Robert Nardelli joined in 2000. While Home Depot remains the country's largest home-improvement chain, rival Lowe's has aggressively expanded, and is growing at a faster rate thanks to more shopper-friendly stores. In response, Home Depot has courted women with how-to clinics and revamped its catalogs and Web site.

bullish

Most financial analysts reaffirmed Home Depot's positive outlook on the company earlier this month, when Mr. Nardelli reassured analysts its efforts remain on track. CSFB retail analyst Jack Murphy called the initiatives "promising," noting the company's focus on improving marketing and merchandising.

"Home Depot is making it clear-where there are reasonable returns to be made related to the home (home products, home services, home builders)-the company will establish a platform and scale it," he wrote.

Mr. Adams will not be replaced at GM, a spokeswoman said.

contributing: jean halliday

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