home depot: effectiveness over glamour

The Home Depot, which, before I moved to New York, used to be one of my favorite places to spend a Saturday, has been a real mess since Arthur Blank and the old guard left. Most of the blame can be laid at the feet of former CEO Bob Nardelli, now (and this is an indictment of the hiring practices of corporate America) running Chrysler.

One thing that he didn’t ruin was Home Depot’s advertising.

Nobody is going to call the Home Depot ads award winning or creatively compelling or anything really positive beyond functional. They do what they are asked to do:

The thing that they do well is use the jingle, if you can call it that, as a mnemonic for the brand. Every time you hear the notes that are the sound bed of every Home Depot spot you immediately know that it is a spot for Home Depot. It is memorable, mainly because the brand stuck with it for so long but also because the tune is catchy, hopeful and right for the “you can do it, we can help” positioning.

I like the use of a mnemonic like that, especially for a retailer brand. It sets Home Depot’s work ahead of Lowe’s because, though neither are creatively groundbreaking, at least Home Depot’s advertising is memorable as Home Depot’s advertising. I would expect that any time that Lowe’s runs a spot there is a fair amount of attribution to Home Depot while Home Depot does not have the same issue.

Part of it is because Home Depot is the leader, but most of it, I would imagine, is because of the jingle. It is immediately recognizable.

Former CMO Dick Sullivan, who left the company to work with Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons, was the executive who gets credit for this and we will see if new CMO Frank Bifulco sticks with what works or tries to put his own stamp on proceedings.

One hopes that he doesn’t make a change just to make a change…though, based on the Sean Gleason/Dr Pepper situation, I wouldn’t put it past any CMO at the moment.


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