Home Depot tries direct response TV

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As Lowe's carves into its market share and Wal-Mart pounds on its door, Home Depot is reaching out to consumers with its first concerted push into direct-response TV.

John Costello, Home Depot exec VP-chief marketing officer, characterized the effort, which breaks today, as a test to help the retailer emphasize its multichannel distribution and to boost private-label brands. "Placing increasing emphasis on direct marketing has the potential to drive direct and in-store sales and strengthen our one-to-one relationship with our customer," he said.

The campaign, which will run on national cable TV networks including AOL Time Warner's CNN and Discovery Communiations' Discovery Channel, features two Home Depot private-label brands, the Husky power washer, priced at $169, and the Ryobi five-tool combo kit for $199. Free shipping is offered for both. Two 60-second spots begin with a spokesman in a Home Depot T-shirt and show a homeowner using the devices. The spots end with the tagline, "The Home Depot. You can do it. We can help," along with a pitch for consumers to order online at homedepot.com or by calling an 800 number.

No `call now'

The ads don't "look like `call now' advertising. We took the same look and feel we use for regular brand advertising," said Amy Hoffar, VP-U.S. communications at Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, Home Depot's agency for direct marketing. The retailer's general market advertising agency is independent, Richards Group, Dallas.

DDB said direct response was a logical next step for Home Depot. "If you look back in time, many retailers started with a catalogue, so the notion of channels of choice have been around for a long time. Home Depot sees that and understands that it is up to the customer how when and where they want to reach them," said Pat Dermody, president of integration at DDB, Chicago. "Call, click or visit the store."

"Retailers using DRTV is something that is becoming more prevalent," said Greg Sarnow, founder of Direct Response Academy, Austin, Texas. "Sears has been doing it for about 10 years. It is a growing model because of the fact that you do get that awareness and sale all in one."

increasing percentage

Mr. Costello would not discuss the budget for the campaign, but said the retailer is considering increasing the percentage of its total budget allocated toward direct marketing. Home Depot in 2002 spent $404.8 million on measured media, up from $361.6 million in 2001, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The direct push comes as talk surfaces of a possible Home Depot agency review. But Mr. Costello said DDB's role "in no way threatens the Richards Group. Richards remains our prime agency and continues to do a great job across Home Depot enterprises in general market advertising."

DDB's Chicago office also handles J.C. Penney's advertising, which emphasizes the goal of broadening the retailer's points of distribution. For Penney's, DDB devised a campaign tagged "It's all inside," pointing out how that retailer's products can be purchased by catalog, in store or on the Web. Ms. Hoffar said the retailer does not present a conflict with Home Depot.

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