Construction Supplies Company Buys 90-Second Super Bowl Spot

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84 Lumber will air its first Super Bowl spot.
84 Lumber will air its first Super Bowl spot. Credit: 84 Lumber
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In order to build up its workforce, a construction-supply company is hitting hard on the advertising hammer. 84 Lumber, a Pennsylvania-based company that sells building materials to the construction industry, is making a bold buy in the Super Bowl spot with a 90-second commercial.

The spot, to air in the second quarter just prior to halftime, is designed to recruit associates eager to develop careers with the 61-year-old brand. Its first-ever Super Bowl spot will evolve into a year-long recruitment campaign, targeting men, aged 20-to-29, with promises of job training and career development.

"We need to hire and train people differently," said Maggie Hardy Magerko, second-generation owner and president. "We need to cast a wider net, and to let the world know that 84 Lumber is a place for people who don't always fit nicely into a box. We want people interested in creating their own path."

Unlike the majority of its private-equity-owned competition, 84 Lumber, headquartered in Eighty Four, Penn., is privately held and family-run. In its heyday, the company, which counts companies like public Builders FirstSource as a competitor, had a reported $3.8 billion in sales—though revenue suffered during the recession when the construction industry plummeted, 84 Lumber's finances have recovered in recent years. A 2015 report estimated the company's sales near $2.5 billion.

While 84 Lumber has 250 locations in some 30 states, it's planning a robust expansion and should finish 2017 with an additional 20 locations, according to Chief Operating Officer Frank Cicero. He noted that the company, which currently employs 5,100, expects to add another 400.

"As more people build houses and the recovery comes, we're going to open more stores and we need the best people we can find," said Mr. Cicero.

Spending an industry-estimated $15 million on a single Super Bowl spot is certainly a bold way to spread the word. 84 Lumber worked with Pittsburgh-based Brunner, its agency partner of more than five years, on the creative strategy and media-buying for the effort.

The Super Bowl spot "speaks highly of 84 Lumber's willingness to take part at that level, with what they think is a very important message," said Rob Schapiro, chief creative officer at Brunner. He noted that the minute-and-a-half spot would take consumers on a journey. "We think people will be moved by it and that it will spark conversation—it's not typical subject matter for this arena," he said, declining to disclose more of the messaging.

This is Brunner's first time creating a Super Bowl spot. Cole Webley, who has worked for Lexus, Adidas and Samsung, will direct. In 2015, 84 Lumber spent around $775,000 on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.

84 Lumber is not alone in its first-time Super Bowl effort; this year, newcomers such as GNC, Febreze and Mr. Clean are all airing commercials.