The dog had caused a commotion in the kitchen this morning. Casualties? You’re favorite mug and a section of tiles on the countertop you bought more than a year ago. So now you find yourself at Lowe’s standing in front of dozens of colored rectangles, trying to remember if those handpicked tiles were Lancetti Beige or Mesa Beige. A few minutes of scrutiny pass and you’re almost certain that Lancetti Beige are the ones you need. Reaching for a stack of three, your heart sinks, you notice that there are in fact two types of Lancetti Beige- glazed and matte…you must be joking, right? Despite our best efforts, we just can’t seem to remember the details when we need to. When it comes to home improvement purchases, this is a sore spot. So really, was it Glazed Lancetti Beige or Matte Lancetti Beige? Lack of recall or easy command over these pesky details means multiple trips to the store, and less time to do the other things we love- your kid’s soccer game, drinks with friends, or seeing The Hunger Games. Lowe’s saw this challenge as an opportunity--a chance to position its brand as the more convenient, shopper-friendly option. MyLowe’s was created to bring Home Improvement into the 21st century, a first of a kind service designed to make home management smarter and simpler. It helps consumers recall what shade of paint they bought last year, what size air filter they need, or in this case, what specific kind of tile. The purchase tracker enables customers to keep track of the products they buy at Lowe’s, thus simplifying home management and eliminating headaches. It is a great platform, but the initial problem was people didn’t quite understand it. At Lowe’s, the saying goes… …The only way to learn is by rolling up your sleeves, getting your hands dirty, and doing it yourself. It was in this spirit that we replicated the MyLowe’s service for the 50+ million users of the Sims Social Facebook game, which allowed its users to build their dream home. Revisiting the situation painted above - the aisle is now the Sims Social store and MyLowes has been seamlessly built into the game via a tab where players could track, organize, and revisit previous purchases. For further clarity, a tutorial quest was created to reward players for opting to learn more about MyLowes. Finally, a player could have their dream Sims home and never forget which brand of technicolor tiles they had bought while playing at 2am. We helped teach the real-world benefits of MyLowe’s by replicating the service in a virtual world. The problem with MyLowe’s being the first of its kind is that…well…you are first. Consumers did not instinctively understand how it worked and what benefits it could provide them. MyLowe’s was being confused for the typical loyalty program that every retailer pushes. Lowe’s was left with a precarious problem. How were they to explain a service that doesn’t fit in a traditional bucket, a service that’s value can’t truly be understood until it’s actually used? While shoppers would sign up at check-out, engagement with the tool was sparse. The challenge of getting them to use the tool and thus experience the benefits was enormous and in-store communication and traditional media weren’t driving enough understanding. The main goal of this campaign was to increase understanding of the MyLowe’s product, more specifically the purchase tracker functionality. Our marketing efforts were designed to replicate the MyLowe’s purchase tracker experience as closely as possible to drive education and understanding of the tool. We needed consumers to see first-hand how MyLowe’s could benefit them. The only way we would be able to break through to our consumer is if we could target them in the action so they could see the benefits of MyLowe’s play out before their very eyes. Therefore, we turned to gaming to leverage a virtual world designed around the joy of building your dream home, to position MyLowe’s as the key to home improvement sanity and delight. Social gaming has created a platform that’s ripe for brands to interact with consumers in new ways. With highly engaged users, playing for hours each week, Lowe’s saw an unrivaled medium to solve its MyLowe’s challenge. With 290 million Facebook users playing social games each month in the U.S. (Nielsen) it was only natural to align with the #1 rated title, EA’s Sims Social, a next generation game that challenges players to build and decorate their dream home. MyLowe’s real world benefits would shine through when replicated in the Sims Social virtual experience while reaching their 11 Million active users (EA). We worked with EA to bring MyLowe’s to life in The Sims, paying great attention to representing the service accurately. This required doing something that had never been done before ¬¬– building directly into the game’s design, and ultimately changing the way it was played. MyLowe’s was going to make Sims Social better. To help users better understand the MyLowe’s product we built a MyLowe’s tab in the game that provided the same benefits to user’s playing The Sims that the real-world product provides to homeowners. This new functionality allowed gamers to keep track, organize, and re-purchase products they bought for their Sims home. As new items were purchased in-game, they automatically populated in the MyLowe’s tab, enabling users to easily track all the items they’d bought for their dream home. As important as the tab itself, was the accompanying tutorial quest that demonstrated its gameplay functionality while educating users on the benefits of MyLowe’s. The three-step quest showed users exactly how to interact with the tab and rewarded those who completed it with a MyLowe’s workbench, a custom item only available through the tutorial. The final component to further educate as well as incentivize users was a series of video engagement units, which rewarded players with free energy, the #1 currency in the game. Through a multi-faceted approach we were able to position MyLowe’s in a way that undoubtedly made the Sims Social experience better, while at the same time teaching consumers the service’s true value. In order to consider this campaign a success, we needed to not only get consumers to engage but truly understand the MyLowe’s service. Based on the in-game performance of the MyLowe’s tab within the Sims Social as well as the results of the third party brand study through comScore…we did just that. Since something like this had never been done before, our primary concern was whether players would understand this new aspect of the game. Those concerns were quickly alleviated as we saw over one million clicks on the purchase tab within the first week of the campaign. While that’s an impressive number, what’s more impressive is that 43% of those clicks were users reviewing their previous purchases, the same way they’d be able to with the “real-world" MyLowe’s. By the end of the campaign, players clicked on the MyLowe’s purchase tab over 3 million times proving it became an innate part of the gaming experience. Since the tutorial quest described the benefits of MyLowe’s, this was the most important aspect of the integration. Of the 11 million active monthly players of the Sims Social, nearly 40% engaged with the MyLowe’s tutorial. The presence within the game left a lasting impression and drove 4 out of every 10 users to interact with MyLowe’s beyond the game and complete a post-ad action. Considering 59% of users said that the sponsorship told them something about MyLowe’s and 76% of those who engaged with the tutorial were more likely to connect MyLowe’s with the purchase tracker functionality, we can say that the program definitely led to increased familiarity and understanding of the tool. So we’ve shown how much Sims Social players interacted with MyLowe’s within the game and in the end these interactions did deliver on our goal to drive comprehension of the MyLowe’s service, driving Lowe’s brand affinity.
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