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
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