A chain of DIY stores in North America has made headlines recently with its new campaign, which targets consumers looking to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.
Westlake Ace Hardware introduced its Zombie Preparedness Center in early October, offering help and advice for consumers concerned about everything from minimising the smell of decaying neighbours to zombie-proofing their homes and gardens.
It may sound like just another PR stunt - and it’s certainly been effective in gaining coverage - but it’s anchored in sound brand thinking from the company’s ad agency. Omaha-based Bozell was keen to find a fresh way of engaging 20- and 30-something consumers with the brand, which was struggling to attract an audience of DIY novices.
The answer? Zombies. Our fascination with the undead has never been more apparent, with The Walking Dead finding fans both here and across the US, and Brad Pitt currently filming a new zombie film in Scotland. It may be a sign of consumers’ anxiety at the fraying of societal bonds, as some psychologists have posited, or something more straightforward - the catharsis of a battle against enemies who may want your flesh but at least don’t want the contents of your bank account.
So where does the brand thinking enter the picture, you may ask? Well, at the heart of the Westlake Ace brand is knowledgeable service. In recent years, the company has sought to position itself as the home of expert advice and assistance in everything DIY, thereby differentiating itself from brands with much larger out-of-town retail formats and a more comprehensive offer.
With its Zombie Preparedness Center, the brand has tapped into a pop culture phenomenon that has high appeal for its younger target audience. It’s treated the subject with exactly the same direct, helpful approach as it does more run-of-the-mill household issues, however; it uses zombies to illustrate common DIY problems such as repairing holes in walls or fitting external security lights.
The result is a campaign that’s garnered the brand great publicity and connected with a notoriously hard to reach audience, while reinforcing its core offer.
So there we are: the next time you’re grappling with a seemingly irresolvable marketing problem, you might just benefit from taking a completely different approach. Of course, if you want a hand with that, you know where to come…