POWER PLAY: "You can do it, we can help" has been a strong, double-edged positioning for Home Depot, which continues to reap the benefits of home ownership and the home improvement boom. Advertising continues to appeal to both the do-it-yourselfer and to the "do it for me" crowd Home Depot is increasingly courting with enhanced services. Under Mr. Costello, 57, Home Depot continues to expand its leverage of sponsorships including popular home-improvement shows on The Learning Channel and an attention-getting Olympics tie-in. The chain is stepping up its courtship of Hispanic customers with a new ad agency, Vidal Partnership, New York.
DOWNSIDE: With interest rates on the rise, the home refinancing boom that fueled Home Depot's sales for the last three years may lose some steam. The company has admitted that inflation and the recent spike in fuel prices have begun to affect sales. Lowe's aggressive expansion and marketing also could begin to take their toll. And with nearly every broadcast and cable network developing home makeover shows, the glut could take the edge off Home Depot's TV sponsorships.