Ace sets sights on women and kids in latest campaign

OAK BROOK, IL: Ace Hardware is planning a major PR push this year

as part of a new marketing campaign designed to attract women and

younger consumers into its stores.



While the company's overall PR spending won't increase from 2000 levels,

this year's efforts represent a strategy shift to more closely integrate

PR plans with advertising and marketing and to get more bang for the

buck, explained Paul Erickson, manager of corporate communications and

PR.



The theme of the new campaign is 'Life is an Ongoing Project.' The newly

integrated marketing plans will play out over the whole year, having

kicked off in January as Ace held a contest to find the messiest kids'

room in the US. That tied into advertising telling people they could

organize their lives with Ace products. The PR team also commissioned a

poll asking kids where they learn their organizational and room-cleaning

habits, hoping to garner free media attention.



Next month, PR will kick off the 'Picture Perfect Lawn Contest' inviting

people to send in photos of themselves and their lawns. The contest

winner will get a dollars 10,000 prize package from Ace.



'We're really trying to attract younger people and make Ace more

relevant to them,' said Erickson. 'We're targeting stages of life:

having a child, buying a home. No matter what stage you go through,

there are home improvement needs.'



Ace works with BSMG Worldwide for national PR and LC Williams, a Chicago

firm, for regional and local PR. BSMG is a sister agency of Ace's ad

agency, Bozell/Chicago. The dollars 13 billion-in-annual-sales

cooperative of 5,100 Ace stores also has a five-person corporate PR

staff.



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