With America ready to start its annual rain-gutter cleaning and shrub-pruning spree, Ace Hardware is going back to its roots with a new marketing campaign, resurrecting a 15-year-old jingle and a tone that is just a tad more neighborly.
Ace -- a retailer-owned hardware cooperative that has long positioned itself as the more helpful alternative to rivals Lowe’s and Home Depot -- is introducing “Meet the Aces,” which replaces the two-year-old “Take back your weekend” campaign.
The new campaign “continues to build on our difference in the market, that we’re about home maintenance, not home improvement,” Jeff Gooding, Ace's director of consumer marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “With our customers, we own the idea of being more helpful than other stores, but this campaign layers on that. In the commercials, you can even see people become physically more relaxed and at ease after getting help from Ace. Customers want a more personal kind of helpful, and they get it at our stores.”
One spot, for example, shows a husband who has washed his wedding ring down the sink, and needs advice on retrieving it before his wife gets home. Each of the spots sets the store up as an actual home -- an effort to remind shoppers that Ace is more like a swing by your neighbor’s house for advice than a trip to a cavernous big-box store.
Ace says it sees that as part of an opportunity to cement its competitive advantages in customer satisfaction: JD Powers has ranked the brand No. 1 in customer satisfaction for six years running.
It also decided to bring its jingle. While the “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man” jingle was made famous by spokespeople Connie Stevens and Suzanne Somers back in the 1970s and 1980s, the company dropped the words 16 years ago, although it continued to use the melody. “We have tremendous equity in the jingle,” he says, “and we know that both from a focus group of a few, like the people who sing it to me in airports when I wear an Ace shirt, but also more quantitative research. Our core audience is 35 to 49, and it really resonates.” Gooding points out that other marketers, including Toys R Us, are resurrecting nostalgic jingles. “It helps us stretch across customer targets, bringing that helpful DNA to younger shoppers, too.”
The campaign, from GSD&M in Austin, includes national television and print advertising, targeted online and radio spots, rich media, social media, in-store signage, and emails to members of the Ace Rewards customer loyalty program.