Goodby Goes for Laughs to Reach Do-it-Yourself Segment

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Ace Hardware Corp., which is trying to nail down a new strategy in the face of the slowing economy, this month launches a humorous ad campaign that sports a remodeled tagline.

'The Helpful Place'
The campaign, breaking Oct. 21, will now carry as its slogan "Ace -- The Helpful Place," replacing "Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks." That long-running tagline had already been tweaked once before, in the early '90s, when Ace chose to go with the more inclusive and politically correct "hardware folks" to replace "hardware man" to take into account the chain's female clerks.

The original tagline began running in the 1970s, said Ace spokeswoman Paula Erickson.

The new tagline and

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two new spots are from Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, which won the anticipated $30 million account earlier this year.

In each new spot, targeted to 25- to 54-year-old men and women, do-it-yourselfers are saved by one of the store's clerks. In one commercial, a man installing a kitchen ceiling fan winds up with his hand down the sink's garbage disposal trying to retrieve a screw just as his wife enters and is about to turn on the electricity. An Ace clerk clad in the store's red vest enters in the knick of time, declaring: "How sure are you about your wiring skills? Come into Ace. We will show you how to get the job done right."

The spots will run on cable outlets through the remainder of the year before moving to network broadcast next year.

John Madden campaign
Ace earlier this fall broke a series of spots from Goodby Silverstein featuring longtime spokesman John Madden, who is an analyst on ABC's Monday Night Football broadcast. In those spots, Mr. Madden appears to be discussing a football play, but is actually plugging a product sold at the hardware chain.

The Madden ads will continue separately through the Monday Night Football season, Ms. Erickson said. Mr. Madden remains under contract for several more years, she added, and is likely to continue with other efforts.

Do-it-yourself approach
The do-it-yourself spots us the same approach as a number of Ace competitors. Ads for Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s Orchard Supply and Hardware chain, from WPP Group's Ogilvy and Mather, Chicago, show how its clerks will help consumers find solutions to problems -- even if they don't involve hardware sales. In one, a man trying to quiet a squealing baby uses some baby powder to silence a squeaky floorboard. Big-box discounter Home Depot has a long- running campaign from independent Richards Group touting the helpfulness of its orange apron-wearing sales clerks.

Ace, headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., is a retailer-owned cooperative with annual sales of $13 billion and 5,000 stores in 72 nations.

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