Lowe's unveils new campaign and NFL sponsorship

New spots will show grittier grout of home improvement

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Lowe's is hammering home the importance of doing things right with a new campaign as it strives to expand its customer base by taking a grittier approach. The home improvement store is rolling out its new tagline, "Do it right for less. Start with Lowe's" next month. Ahead of the campaign, the retailer announced Tuesday that it inked a new multi-year deal as the official home improvement retail sponsor of the National Football League. It is the latest of several new deals the league has announced in recent months as its TV ratings continue to grow.

In the past, the Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer had focused on consumers who were keen on light do-it-yourself projects, says Jocelyn Wong, chief marketing officer. Lowe's wants to continue to attract such loyalists, but also target shoppers looking for heavier projects—those that it calls "pro" consumers.

"These are the kind of people who take such pride in their work—they want to do it right," Wong says. "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." Instead of the more whimsical, lighthearted ads of previous campaigns, Lowe's is embracing what Wong describes as a "grittier" look at the home improvement space in its new push, which begins Feb. 1. Rather than glossing over a bathroom remodel, new ads will actually show the grout, for example.

The campaign includes national TV spots, radio, digital and social media as well as out-of-home. In addition, Lowe's will use its new NFL sponsorship to target these so-called pro consumers. "The NFL deal is a great example of how we reach that customer," Wong says.

While Lowe's will not have a spot in the Super Bowl, the retailer will have branding in the stadium and participate in community events around Atlanta, host to this year's game—and home to Lowe's chief competitor Home Depot. Lowe's also has a smaller partnership with NCAA, but this is the brand's largest sponsorship since its 17-year deal with Nascar ended last year.

The NFL's home improvement category sponsorship had been vacant since Home Depot ended its deal a decade ago. The league, whose TV ratings have rebounded after two years of declines, has inked seven new sponsorship deals in the past 12 months, including Intuit, Sleep Number, Pizza Hut, HP, Amazon Web Services and Caesars Entertainment, which became the NFL's first-ever casino sponsor in a deal announced earlier this month.

Last year, Lowe's switched up its agency model, moving from a single agency-of-record model with BBDO to a roster of three—Via Agency, in Portland, Maine, EP & Co. in Greenville, S.C., and Conill, out of Los Angeles. All three shops worked on the new campaign.

The chain has been fine-tuning its marketing strategy under new CEO Marvin Ellison, who joined from JC Penney last year. Executives recently spoke at an investor conference about reducing overall marketing spend by tapping into digital channels and running more targeted campaigns. In 2017, Lowe's spent $334 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media. Wong declined to say how the new campaign budget compares to previous efforts.

For the third quarter that ended Nov. 2, Lowe's reported a 4 percent sales increase to $17.4 billion.

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