New Tagline Is Only the Third in Chain's 25-Year History

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Home improvement chain Home Depot has remodeled its marketing, while redesigning its stores, with a $350 million branding campaign in the face of stiff competition for the do-it-yourself consumer.

The campaign, which breaks on Sunday during the Grammy Awards broadcast on CBS, carries a new tagline, "Home Depot is More Than a Store. You can do it. We can help," which is only the third in the chain's 25-year history.

"We wanted to build on the strength of the relationships we have with customers," said John Costello, Home Depot's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, who took the post in November.

Prime-time TV buy
The marketer's TV buy includes

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top prime-time programming such as CBS' CSI: Miami and Survivor: Thailand, NBC's Scrubs as well as cable networks such as the Discovery Channel. Other elements of the campaign will include radio, newspaper and magazine ads. Although Mr. Costello declined to give specific spending figures, he said the campaign, from independent agency Richards Group, Dallas, will be backed with the full clout of the Home Depot ad budget. He also said the budget would be increased this year.

For the first 11 months of last year, Home Depot spent $363.4 million in measured media, up from $361.6 million in 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Also trending up in ad spending last year was Home Depot's closest competitor, Lowes' Cos., which spent $244.1 million for the first 11 months of 2001, up from $223.7 million in 2001.

Home improvement rivals
Home Depot earlier this year told Wall Street analysts it planed a $250 million program to remodel its stores, changing aisle endcaps as well as redesigning signage. Several analysts have expressed concern about competition from Lowe's, which has tidier, less cluttered-looking stores and is increasing sales in prized markets. Last year, Ace Hardware broke a new campaign from its new agency, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, that included longtime pitchman John Madden.

In addition to its new look, Mr. Costello said Home Depot wants to better market its point of differentiation from Lowe's and retail behemoth Wal-Mart. To do so, the campaign and other marketing efforts will stress programs Home Depot offers consumers, such as free seminars on do-it-yourself projects like painting and installing tile, or those aimed at women and children. Those aspects of the company have been featured separately, and only occasionally in ads over the years. The new ads will feature the chain's actual orange apron-wearing store associates.

Home Depot has used just two other taglines since launching in 1978, Mr. Costello said: "Where low prices are just the beginning" and "Driving down the cost of home improvement."

Duct tape, plastic sheeting
Mr. Costello said the retailer has been inundated with shoppers stocking up on duct tape, plastic sheeting and other supplies to put together "home emergency kits" following the Bush administration's announcement that Americans be prepared in case of terrorist attack. Mr. Costello said there will not be any specific marketing built around the threat of biological and chemical threats.

Mr. Costello said he was pleased with the campaign hammered out by the Richards Group during the past four months, despite rumors that surfaced when he got the job in November that a review was imminent.

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