Ace Hardware integrated push differentiates chain from big-box competitors

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Ace Hardware will launch an integrated campaign on April 7 including digital marketing, television and radio ads, direct mail and loyalty initiatives.

The dealer-owned hardware cooperative developed the “I Will” campaign with Austin, TX-based GSD&M Idea City to differentiate its smaller, locally focused retailers from big-box competitors such as Home Depot or Lowe's.

“Our goal is to drive existing customers into local stores more often and to bring new consumers into those stores as well,” said Dana Larsen, brand manager at Ace Hardware. “We debuted our new strategy last fall, and we debuted our new campaign at our spring show [to retail partners]. It was very well-received by our retailers.”

GSD&M created the digital, television and radio components of the campaign. Ace will incorporate the creative with internally developed direct mail and loyalty initiatives to reach existing customers.

“It's critical that the brand positioning is leveraged through all our channels,” Larsen said. “It's integrated from and our emerging media channels to our Ace Rewards loyalty program, mail and in-store material.”

The hardware store will also run six video ads on its Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as home maintenance tips. Its Facebook page will also feature a branded status updater, while its YouTube page will incorporate seasonal how-to videos hosted by Lou Manfredini, an Ace store owner. This portion of the campaign will target younger customers unfamiliar with the brand.

“The younger group grew up with big boxes, so they don't have the romanticized visions of what happens at a hardware store,” said Scott Moore, SVP and group account director at GSD&M. “For that group, we feel it's easier to reach them through TV and social media. It's really about engaging consumers or getting the conversation going.”

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