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Volume 22 No. 31
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CMO: NFL makes sense to Lowe’s now

Early this year, Lowe’s became the NFL’s first sponsor in the home improvement category in roughly a decade. Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jocelyn Wong discussed the ins and outs of the deal with staff writer Terry Lefton.

What are your objectives with the NFL sponsorship?

WONG: Part of the appeal is the broad reach of the NFL. We’ll use that to connect better with the heavy DIY and pro customer base. … That pro base has not been an area of strength for us, but now we’re focusing on getting that right. The first NFL ad we are running is the first time we have advertised directly to the pro customer nationally.

The seasonality of the NFL also works well for us. There’s also this avid base across the NFL we can tap into for fans and associates at our 1,700 stores.

Any team deals yet to support this?

WONG: We’re absolutely looking at that and we should have plans there in another four weeks. We’re also in the midst of an RFP for an activation agency. We should have that done within six weeks.

What are the most important measurements you’ll look at to gauge whether this sponsorship is effective?

WONG: We’re building the brand, in terms of affinity and preference, but we’re also trying to drive awareness, which is ultimately what’s going to change customer behavior and drive traffic to our stores and Lowes.com. Those are the hard metrics.

From a brand standpoint, we want to look at appeal. Do consumers associate the NFL with Lowe’s? And we measure brand preference after each activation or new campaign.

What’s important is to drive this to home improvement. We’re not a Nike, we’re not a Gatorade, which are endemic.The trick for us is tying this to home improvement, and uniquely to Lowe’s.

What kind of in-store NFL support will there be?

WONG: Our own [NFL] in-store marketing plans are still TBD, but another piece of our strategy is leveraging our existing vendor base within this partnership so they can be part of the NFL activation. We’re also looking at opportunities for NFL [licensed] merchandise to be sold in our stores and online. We’re probably six to eight weeks from that.

■ Consumers still associate Lowe’s with motorsports, even as you have transitioned to more stick-and-ball sponsorships …

WONG: Motorsports made sense for us then [in the past]. We’ve got to evolve as our customers evolve. The world is different. For me, sports are not a personal [choice] at all. We purely look at sports and partnerships from a business standpoint, and from that standpoint the NFL makes sense for us now.