For 84 Lumber, the hits (and hates) keep coming
The 84 Lumber Entire Journey YouTube video, which takes the lumberyard’s immigration-themed, 90-second Super Bowl ad and runs with it for a full 5 minutes and 44 seconds, has garnered more than 10 million views on YouTube as of Wednesday afternoon.
Adweek called the ending of 84 Lumber’s uncensored Super Bowl commercial “beautiful and provocative.”
The extended-cut video concluded with the phrase: “The will to succeed is always welcome here.” The stated mission of the ad was to position 84 Lumber as a company of opportunity for the next generation of the housing industry.
On YouTube, thumbs up outnumbered thumbs down by a score of 83,617 to 28,062. Still, as expected, there were quite a few negative comments in the blogosphere, mostly by those who interpreted the ad as a celebration of illegal immigration — a point the company was quick to deny in a tweet of its own:
— 84 Lumber Company (@84LumberNews) February 7, 2017
Other tweets ran the gamut from full-throttled support to venomous opposition. Here's a sampling:
— Gen. Robert E Lee (@Suthen_boy) February 7, 2017
— ScottEvon (@ScottEvon) February 6, 2017
— Xavier Gonzalez Jr. (@xgonzalezjr) February 6, 2017
— Carrie Welborn (@CarrieWelborn) February 6, 2017
84 Lumber is making a statement on Mexican immigration in its #SuperBowl ad, we are just not quite sure what that is exactly…
— Ad Age (@adage) February 6, 2017
Meredith Klein, public relations account supervisor for 84 Lumber agency Brunner, said online viewership for all the campaign's videos has crossed the 15 million mark, and the reaction has been predictably diverse — "a lot of conversation, both for and against."
She added: "It's an important conversation to have and we hope the commercial has helped to humanize what has become a very divisive issue. At the end of the day, these are people and families we're talking about."
Throwback Thursday: Erb Lumber’s big comeback
Back in the early 1980s, Erb Lumber president Fred Erb was guiding his Birmingham, Michigan-based chain of 29 stores through one of the home center industry’s most volatile periods.
As reported in the July 16, 1984 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, Erb Lumber’s new 140,000 sq. ft. distribution center was just one of the projects on the company’s plate. Erb Lumber was also moving to unify its merchandising approach – a task made difficult by the wide variety of footprints in the chain, which had grown largely through acquisitions.
What kind of merchandising did he have in mind?
“I’m talking about the kind where you walk into the store and the presentation tells you to buy,” said Erb.
A slowdown in housing starts in 1980 and 1981 hurt Erb Lumber, which saw a 75% drop in net income over that period. But 1983 came witha 154% rebound.
Erb explained in 1984 that the company needed to expand its sales with consumers.
A prototype in Detroit revealed some of the ideas that would play a role: expanded kitchen cabinet displays, bathroom vanity and paint departments visible from the front door, a trebling of the number of endcaps storewide, the covering of the inside walls of the store with cedar pine boards, and longer evening operating hours.
Erb's strategy and execution paid off in growth – the company had 45 stores in 1993. That’s the year that the family sold the business to Carolina Holdings, which later became Stock Building Supply, and even later became BMC Stock Holdings.
Erb was a remarkable figure in the home improvement industry and a respected philanthropist in Detroit even after his business years. He died in 2013 at the age of 90.
84 Lumber delivers its full, ‘controversial’ message
It was deemed too controversial for the Super Bowl audience — thanks to a plot that worked its way across a barren (but beautifully filmed) landscape to reach a climax at a divisive border wall.
At noon on Monday, the 5-minute, 44-second Youtube video was showing 3,288,260 views. Thumbs up were leading thumbs down by more than 5 to 1.
The company said the commercial said the themes of hard work, dedication and sacrifice found throughout the film are the same ideals valued in 84 Lumber employees.
At the end of the story, immigrants enter the U.S. through a big door in a border wall.
“Even President Trump has said there should be a ‘big beautiful door in the wall so that people can come into this country legally,'" 84 Lumber president and owner Maggie Hardy Magerko said. “It’s not about the wall. It’s about the door in the wall. If people are willing to work hard and make this country better, that door should be open to them.”
The ad and the short film, created by 84 Lumber’s agency partner, Brunner, was created to position 84 Lumber as a company of opportunity for the next generation of the housing industry, the company said.
“This is a spot and a campaign that demands attention, serious reflection, spirited dialogue and, most importantly, tells the world who 84 Lumber is,” Brunner’s chief creative officer Rob Schapiro said. “With a platform like this, we had a responsibility to do more than create a commercial, but to create something meaningful that would get people talking about the housing industry in a positive way. And ignoring the conversation that’s taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America just didn’t seem right.”
The price of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial has been reported widely as a cool $5 million.
84 Lumber’s Super Bowl commercial wasn’t the only spot that focused on immigration. A Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl looked back at Adolphus Busch’s entry into the United States.
Super Bowl Sunday also included a football game. The New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons, owned by Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank, by a score of 34-28.