The new commercial for Lowe’s Home Improvement is a perfect example of an ad agency that not only does not understand brand but has a limited grasp on their own craft as well.
Harsh words? You bet? But this kind of brand mismanagement by an advertising agency is not unusual and I think it might be valuable to discuss it here.
The commercial running right now, which I will call “glow in the dark cat hat” is so off brand that it screams for commentary.
Take a look here.
So, based upon the content of the spot we will tease out the strategy—convince less than confident husbands that they can do home improvement confidently.
The Lowe’s Home Improvement brand message is lost
The idea is that we can identify with this guy who hesitates to take on home improvement projects because his skill set lies in other places — beyond installing bathroom vanities. It almost makes sense if the idea for Lowes Home Improvement is to expand the home improvement category and is designed to get people who have never done a home improvement project to consider taking one on. If the idea is to steal share from those that frequent Home Depot the strategy is completely wrong. I am hoping the former because if Lowes intended the latter this strategy is failed as well.
From a brand perspective, the ad failed because the hero husband, whom we are supposed to identify with (a hallmark of branding is to emotionally connect with the self-reflection of the brand itself), is misguided and foolish. The intended humor in the ad points this out with precision. Now that he is confident in his ability to feel confident in what he does, he takes the ridiculous idea to his boss (his big idea) of a glow in the dark cat hat. Not only does his boss dismiss the idea as stupid, the viewer is separated from the character because we all see how dumb it can be to feel confident. This is precisely the WRONG brand message.
Now I recognize that you think I have no sense of humor because it is meant to be funny. I get that. The question raised is this: Is humor the best way to make he brand point that Lowes Home Improvement gives those who try home improvement projects successfully greater confidence? It is a difficult task.
All to often advertising agencies hoist humor on a client for self-serving purposes. The agency creatives LOVE funny commercials because they win awards and industry wide self-congratulations. It is a victory for the agency rather than a victory in market share growth.
Worse still, no one told Lowe’s Home Improvement about the costs of humorous ads. They have a minuscule shelf life and require tons of executions. Look at the number of spots the Rob Lowe campaign has for DIRECTV. DIRECTV purposefully chose a format that allows for multiple shoots and endless executions because it recognized the drawback inherent in humorous ads. You need to keep them so fresh that they are raw. You can recycle a funny ad, but it needs to have some planned breaks in its rotation.
So the question I have for Lowe’s Home Improvement is quite simple. What are your strategic goals? Are you looking to speak to folks who have never done any home improvment or steal share from those that purchased the raw materials from a competitor? Did you invest enough money in the campaign to have a dozen executions or were you focusing on frequency?
But the biggest question is about the Lowe’s Home Improvement brand itself. Who are you (speaking about your customer) when you shop at Lowes? Are you confident in what you do? Are your confident actions rewarded with success or is that confidence ill placed?
In this commercial, your target audience does not covet such foolish confidence as to roll up your sleeves and then fail so miserably.
Let’s build something together has some responsibility. I think it is time to change agencies.