Ace Hardware Aims to Win with “The Help”

Photo: Ace Hardware Facebook.

Photo: Ace Hardware Facebook.

Who’s the friendliest of them all: Home Depot, Lowes or Ace Hardware?

If new marketing works, it will be the “helfpul marketing folks” at Ace Hardware.

Ace has evolved its marketing positioning from an in-store shopping convenience benefit – “Take back your weekend” (refer to my 2011 post) – to a customer service benefit – “Getting help at Ace is like going to your neighbor.”

While the convenience of finding what you’re looking for in a smaller store is a tangible benefit, the Illinois company has now decided to highlight its neighborly advice.  After all, Ace isn’t going to beat its rivals on price or assortment

The new marketing campaign builds from a simple positioning and is effectively communicated in new TV commercials.  There’s a master establishing TV spot, and then there’s the first of three planned national TV commercials::

As part of the integrated marketing campaign, the new positioning is highlighted on Ace’s website homepage.  In addition, the marketing plan features “national 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” (per Sarah Mahoney writing in MediaPost).

The company explained that “the “Meet The Aces” campaign brings to life the personal, knowledgeable and helpful service every customer receives at Ace Hardware, highlighting Ace as the neighborhood helpful place where customers are treated like a neighbor, not a number.”

And, in another example of “what’s old is new again,” Ace has reprised its iconic tagline jingle.  I sure remember the original but don’t recall the switch from “man” to “folks,” although that’s a better fit for our 2013 society:

“Originally made famous by former Ace spokespeople Connie Stevens and Suzanne Somers in 1970s and 80s era advertising campaigns, in 1989 the jingle evolved from “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man” to “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks” to be more representative of all Ace associates. Although the jingle has appeared in Ace’s advertising for decades, for the past 16 years only the melody of the jingle has been featured.”

Personal attention and advice is an ownable benefit and positioning for Ace, assuming they can actually deliver it consistently in their stores.  John Surane, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Merchandising and Sales, believes they can and will:

“Through the ‘Meet The Aces’ campaign, we’ve literally brought to life the neighborly advice and undivided attention that customers receive when they walk into an Ace Hardware store.  Ace has always delivered on providing a more personal kind of helpful to its customers and with the introduction of the new campaign and relaunch of our jingle, we’re able to raise awareness of the personal attention, expertise and knowledge that can only be found at Ace Hardware.”

By the way, the new marketing initiative seems to be part of the recently announced launch of the company’s new long-term retail growth strategy, called 2020 Vision.

Headline

Keep it simple with your positioning, branding and marketing communications with a focus on what’s in it for the end-user.  Ace Hardware takes an important retail experience benefit – neighborly personal advice –  and uses easy demonstration examples to drive the message home to own the benefit with consumers.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

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