Lowe’s is building out a full agenda for this week’s NFL Draft, one of its first major events since becoming the league’s “Official Home Improvement” partner.
The deal was announced in January, and Lowe’s CMO Jocelyn Wong said a major part of the appeal was the NFL’s approach to tentpole events.
“As we evaluated long-term partnerships, we wanted to make sure we had the right one and the right reasons,” Wong said. “First and foremost, it appeals to our target customers. Second, seasonality and events that match our business and customer needs.
“Other sports partnerships were more limiting in calendar activations.”
This weekend in Nashville, Lowe’s is capitalizing on the partnership with a mixture of national and local activations in line with what the company plans to do throughout the multi-year deal. The activations will largely be anchored on a new campaign called “Pro Ready” that has a dual meaning. Beyond the obvious tie-in to the NFL’s newest crop of rookies, it also hints at the home improvement professional customer segment Lowe’s has focused on the past six to nine months.
“Obviously, we’re speaking to rookies, but it’s an awesome overlap for where we are from a business point,” Wong said. “We are now pro-ready. Admittedly, we’ve not done as well as we needed to, and when I think about drafting — rookies going pro, teams resetting, getting better — it hits on our new beginning, new focus and new energy.”
A national Pro Ready marketing campaign will debut this weekend featuring TV commercials, billboards and online ads. It’s the first campaign focused on construction professionals for the brand. From the professionals to the do-it-yourself crowd, Wong said the broad appeal to all demographics and the health of the league all also contributes to the attractiveness to the deal.
Beyond the Pro Ready theme to the weekend, Lowe’s is focused on using the draft to propel itself forward both nationally and locally with multiple activations. On the ground in Nashville, Lowe’s provided 42,000 linear feet of 4×6 lumber for the stage as well as 39,000 square feet of plywood.
As Renie Anderson, the NFL executive vice president of partnerships and chief revenue officer, puts it, Lowe’s is literally helping build this year’s NFL Draft.
“Our partners are instrumental in helping to bring the NFL Draft to life,” Anderson said in an email. “When we started planning the build of the NFL Draft, we knew that we could count on Lowe’s to bring its expertise as well as provide significant materials and supplies that would result in a best-in-class footprint for our event.”
Then there’s the local level. Tennessee Titans players are interacting with customers throughout the retailer’s Nashville-area stores, and the Lombardi Trophy is making the rounds as well. The league and Lowe’s also teamed up to donate turf to a Boys and Girls Club and picnic tables to Habitat for Humanity. The mix of national and local activations was key to Wong, especially as a way to engage store associates.
She also believes this weekend could be a jumping-off point to even bigger things. She said the company already has an eye on concepts for the start of the season this fall and has an RFP out to hire a sports activation agency after all the work thus far has been handled by its existing agency roster plus the internal Lowe’s team. Although Lowe’s isn’t a brand naturally endemic to the NFL and its players, Wong said her team is working hard to bring creative ideas to the table, and she hopes the company is challenging the league thinks about partnerships.
“We’re not like Gatorade or Pepsi, you can’t see players using us,” Wong said. “How do we make it feel natural and authentic? We found some ways to do that, and the team is very much working on how to bring it to life.”