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No Nonsense About Nuts 'n' Bolts

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McCoy's Building Supply Centers takes on a tougher image in a $5-6 million campaign from new agency McGarrah/Jessee.

Three television commercials from the Austin, Texas, agency began roll-ing out across Texas last week.

Filmed in gritty black-and-white by director David Mc-Namara of Maysles Films in New York, the 30-second spots show McCoy's customers and employees at work.

In between construction scenes, text states, "12-lb. sledgehammer, aisle 9," "8-inch anchor bolts, aisle 7" and "Cutesy artichoke-shaped cabinet knobs, not in stock ... " A man in a baseball cap stares at the camera in complete distaste as the text continues, "... Ever."

A second ad, which features similar visuals, notes that not one of McCoy's employees wears aprons. "After all, we're not baking cookies here," it declares.

All three spots end with the new tagline, "Go build something."

The strategy of the agency's campaign, which in-cludes radio, is to differentiate Mc-Coy's from its larger competitors like The Home Depot and Lowe's.

"We found a strong customer niche for [McCoy's] in people who are hard-core builders," said McGarrah/Jessee principal Mark McGarrah. "They may not do it professionally, but they like to do things the serious way."

The agency recruited one such customer for its spots, using a contractor who dropped into McCoy's to pick up supplies as the production team was shooting. After being persuaded to take part in the commercial, the man's actual impatience to leave and return to his building project was used to create the distasteful look that seems to result from the mere idea of artichoke-shaped cabinet knobs.

"That moment is pretty priceless," said McGarrah.

Since selecting McGarrah/Jessee as its agency last year, McCoy's has rallied around the new brand positioning. In particular, store inventory has been realigned to carry more professional-grade equipment and less decorating and entertaining items such as fans and grills.

The broadcast campaign is a major new promotional tactic for a family-owned business that previously advertised primarily through newspaper inserts.

McCoy's operates more than 90 retail locations throughout Texas. The centers are located primarily in small or rural markets.