Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report


BSMG’s public relations objective was to build on Ace’s outstanding reputation and educate consumers that Ace is the place for all their home improvement needs.

Paul Holmes

Ace Hardware approached BSMG Worldwide in July 1999 after an established relationship with Bozell Advertising, its sister advertising agency, with the need to expand their advertising programs and drive more consumers into their stores.  For more than 75 years Ace Hardware has fostered a reputation as the “helpful hardware folks” and for having high quality products.  Yet many people perceived Ace as simply a store for only tools and hardware.  BSMG’s public relations objective was to build on Ace’s outstanding reputation and educate consumers that Ace is the place for all their home improvement needs. 
To let consumers know that Ace is more than nuts, bolts and hammers, BSMG developed Organize Your Life, a national campaign to educate consumers that the tools, products, and most importantly, the solutions they need are all available from Ace. The program launched in January 2000 to help consumers get organized following the chaotic holiday season.
BSMG wanted to make sure that the message of getting organized wouldn’t get swallowed up in the media so timing was crucial. As BSMG discussed timing for the launch of Organize Your Life, it looked at the holidays as an ideal period due to hectic schedules that leave little time for getting organized.  But BSMG wanted to know exactly just how disorganized people were in America. To find out the public’s view on home organization, BSMG conducted a national survey of parents and kids that asked them a series of questions related to getting organized.  The findings of the 2,000 parents and kids surveyed were reported in Ace Hardware’s first annual Ace Clutter Index.  The Ace Clutter Index confirmed that getting organized is indeed a challenge for the majority of American’s.
Once the timing was nailed down, we needed to make sure that the survey results fit with our initial idea, that consumers feel disorganized during the holiday season.  Our hunch was right: Eighty-five percent of families surveyed said the holidays left them feeling disorganized, drowning in wrapping paper and unable to store all the new gifts.  Only 10 percent felt their homes were completely organized.  What was of particular interest to Ace was that more than half (55 percent) of adults said they didn’t know where to turn for the products and advice that would help them get organized.  Consumers uncertainty about “where to turn” for help allowed BSMG to position Ace as the source for expert advice as well as home organization products.  
We had two main objectives to address our target audience:
  • Use the survey results found in the Ace Clutter Index to add credibility to the Organize Your Life program which urged families to get organized for the holidays
  • Position Ace Hardware as the destination for all home improvement needs

The Clutter Index findings were used in a video news release that kicked-off the national Organize Your Life program.  The survey results were also incorporated into print press materials at the national and local level. Nationally, results of the Ace Clutter Index were used as the primary media angle in the press kit, including a summary of the Ace Clutter Index findings. At the local level, BSMG provided Ace’s 5,100 retailers with a fill-in-the-blank press release that discussed the survey findings and featured quotes that helped identify local Ace retailers as home organization experts in their markets.
The Ace Clutter Index findings added credibility to America’s Messiest Room Contest, a national search for the messiest room in America to vie for a complete home organization, which was the primary tactic of the Organize Your Life program.  Through the Ace Clutter Index BSMG learned more than 90 percent of those surveyed felt they were not completely organized.  With these results in hand, BSMG was confident that the national contest would attract the attention of consumers and media as Ace began its search for the most cluttered room in the country.
In only its first year, the contest received more than 3,200 entries and generated nearly 89 million audience impressions with a CPM of only $2.77. The Ace Clutter Index helped our PR efforts by raising consumer awareness that they are not alone when facing the task of getting organized.  More importantly, BSMG was able to use the Clutter Index findings in its press materials and through America’s Messiest Room Contest to convey to Americans how Ace Hardware’s products and services extend well beyond nuts, bolts and hammers.

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