The salesman said something that has stuck in my head for over two decades. “Most people only buy one dining room set in their lifetime. If you buy it right, you have something that is passed down through the generations.”
He was right.
My aunt is still using the table my grandparents bought when she was young. I played cards at my cousin’s house at a table with initials carved in it from family members who were gone long before I was born. My own dining room table is twenty three years old and counting.
True Value created an ad that captures that sentiment perfectly. Watch it here. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
Here is the transcript from that ad …
During the depression my grandfather went hungry around this table.
Before leaving for Vietnam my uncle ate one of his last meals in America around this table.
This table has played host to everything from Christmas dinners to Grandma’s bridge tournaments to arguments about politics and sports.
This table has had fists pounded on it, pumpkins carved on it, and babies spit up on it.
Four generations of children have had to sit at this table until they ate all their vegetables, one of them just last week.
This table has a story. This table is a story. And the story doesn’t end any time soon.
This ad hits all the emotions of a dining room table perfectly. This ad is written for the Nostalgia crowd. That’s one of my core values which is why this ad resonates with me. It also fits most of the principles of a powerful ad.
This ad 1) tells a story, 2) speaks to the heart, 3) doesn’t look or sound like any other hardware store ad out there, 4) makes only one point – that we are the store for people who want to restore keepsakes and memories. 5) It speaks to the nostalgia crowd and the do-it-yourself tribe. 6) It covers enough universal memories that it could very well be your own table.
About the only thing it doesn’t do is connect you solidly back to the brand.
By itself, this is a highly emotional ad that makes you think about your own table and all the memories it holds. But it doesn’t make you think about True Value. To do that it needs to be a series of ads with a similar feel that over time will begin to resonate because it will tell an even larger story about the brand.
The important takeaway is that one great ad won’t necessarily move the needle. It is when you craft a series of ads, a campaign with the same style and flair that people come to recognize as you the instant the music or voice or image opens, then the magic begins to happen.
If True Value were to do a series of ads like this over a period of time, they would begin to own the hearts of the Nostalgia crowd. They would get the top of mind awareness for the people who share that sentiment and believe what they believe. They would establish themselves as the brand for those who want to restore and refinish and value the old-style craftsmanship. One ad won’t do that. One ad will make you think of tables. A series of ads gets you to think about the brand.
My favorite compliment about my advertising for Toy House was not about any individual ad. It was when people said they couldn’t wait to hear the next ad. It is the series of ads that truly speaks about your brand and tells your customers what you believe.
PS The ad copy is poetry. All great ad copy reads and sounds like poetry. Then again, the poet’s job has always been to take something you already knew, reframe your perspective, and make you feel something. Oh, and the ad-writer’s job is to take something your customers already know, reframe their perspective, and make them feel something. But you already know that.