Price Is Right For TruSrv

TruServ Corp. this week launches its first advertising covering its three retail hardware and home center chains.
Three 30-second TV spots are part of a yearlong, $15 million campaign introducing “Bargain of the Month,” a pricing promotion available at TruServ’s True Value, ServiStar and Coast to Coast operations.
The umbrella campaign follows a year of corporate deliberation over how best to integrate the chains, combined when Cotter & Co. here (parent of True Value) acquired East Butler, Pa.-based ServiStar (which also operated Coast to Coast) in December 1996. The new company was dubbed TruServ Corp.
Rationale for the merger was that the three chains would gain buying clout with vendors as they compete with the giant home center chains, which TruServ vice president for advertising Rich Brayer called “the big boxes.” Those efficiencies are being delivered, he said.
“The consumer perception is that the big boxes offer lower prices every day [than True Value or ServiStar], and that’s not the reality,” Brayer said. “We’re very price-competitive, but we needed a vehicle to communicate that better. We think the BOTM approach, in addition to the marketing the chains do individually, will help change the perception.”
The BOTM corporate price campaign was created Leo Burnett, Chicago, which continues to handle brand advertising for True Value. A new campaign for that chain will begin in April. Marc Advertising, Pittsburgh, continues to create brand ads for ServiStar, although it has also won an assignment to handle a True Value paint TV campaign that will break this spring. With the exception of Marc’s TV work, all media buying has been consolidated with Burnett.
In one of the BOTM spots, two male sports fans jump, shout and slap hands when the hardware bargains are announced on their TV.
In another, two teary women watching a soap opera cry even harder, but with joy, at the news of the TruServ sale. Spots are tagged, “It’s a very, very big deal.”
The first round of spots breaks this week. The media schedule departs from the usual focus on sports programming in an attempt to reach more women, Brayer said. The buy includes broadcast network morning shows such as NBC’s Today, as well as network evening news and late-night and cable network prime time slots on weekends. Broadcast and cable NASCAR coverage is also included. The TV schedule will be heaviest from Wednesday through Sunday during the second week of each month.
Last month, TruServ opted not to renew True Value’s sponsorship of the National Football League. A decision on continuing its similar deal with Major League Baseball will be made by July 1, Brayer said.