Lowe’s Says, ‘Let’s Holiday’

NEW YORK Lowe’s this week introduced a new campaign dubbed “Let’s Holiday,” as part of its seasonal push. But instead of pitching a value message in a down economy, the home improvement giant is touting the shopping experience it offers to drive consumers to its stores.

The ads, via BBDO, New York, show a boy following a magical trail of sparkles through a Lowe’s store. As the child watches in awe, coffee mugs change to reindeer and outdoor plants become Christmas trees. “Hey, Merry Christmas,” a Lowe’s service rep — holding a light fixture that turns into tree lights — says to the boy. The spot ends with a stack of gardening pots transformed into blooming wreaths and the boy convincing his mother to buy one. “You’re right, we do need a wreath,” she says. “Yeah, but there’s so many sparkles and trees and magic,” he says. “Let’s holiday this season,” a voiceover concludes.

The spots echo the tone of Macy’s “Believe” campaign, which revives the famous 1897 “Yes Virginia” letter that ran in the New York Sun, in which journalist Francis Church responded to a girl’s question of whether Santa Claus was real. Macy’s effort, via JWT, New York, comes as retailers face a difficult holiday sales season. (Macy’s reported a 6.3 percent drop in October same-store sales earlier this week.)

Lowe’s, meanwhile, is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Nov. 17. In a research note compiled last month, Credit Suisse analysts upgraded both Lowe’s and Home Depot’s stock outlook from “neutral” to “outperform.” Both rivals could benefit as the housing market reaches new lows, the report stated.

Lowe’s rep Chris Ahearn said the “Let’s Holiday” campaign plays up the in-store shopping experience that consumers get at Lowe’s. “This is about . . . the inspiration you’ll find in our stores,” Ahearn said. She added that the campaign would evolve as Lowe’s heads into the thick of the holiday season, with future ads emphasizing what shoppers are really looking for this Christmas.

One item that did well last season — and which Lowe’s expects to make a big comeback this year — is customizable gift cards. Zain Raj, global practice leader for retail brands at Euro RSCG Worldwide, said the trend is consistent with consumer behavior this year.

“In past years, when the economy was good, consumers would browse and indulge in some impulse shopping and pick up something they didn’t need while they were walking around,” he said. “This year, the focus is on more practical gifts and ideas, i.e. here’s something you can give someone that they can actually use.” And gift cards meet that demand, Raj said.

Lowe’s spent $425 million on advertising in 2007 and $275 million through August of this year (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.