84 Lumber will use 90 seconds during the Super Bowl as a recruiting tool
January 11, 2017 12:00 AM
Michelle Wie eyes up her putt on the 17th hole in 2006 at the 84 Lumber Classic at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington. The company is now turning to the Super Bowl to raise brand awareness.
GNC store in Market Square, PPG Place Downtown Pittsburgh
By Tim Grant / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Football fans around the country who may not have heard of 84 Lumber will have 90 seconds to get familiar with the nation’s largest privately held building materials supplier, thanks to a commercial the Washington County-based company plans to air during this year’s Super Bowl just before halftime.
“While the 84 Lumber name is well known within the home building industry and in Pittsburgh where it’s headquartered, their brand awareness among the general public is very low,” said Amy Smiley, director of marketing for 84 Lumber. “People don’t realize we’re a $2.5 billion company with 5,000 plus employees and 250 locations in 30 states.”
Downtown-based ad agency Brunner has managed all aspects of the company’s Super Bowl debut. Brunner declined to disclose details about the ad’s creative content or confirm how much 84 Lumber is paying for the 90-second spot during one of the most-watched events of the year.
Industry sources report ad space for this year’s Super Bowl will cost a record $5 million for a 30-second space, meaning 84 Lumber would pay an estimated $15 million to stand in the spotlight of the world’s biggest stage.
“They chose the Cadillac plan because they have a Cadillac message,” said Michael Brunner, chairman and CEO of the ad agency. “The opportunity to tell a story in 90 seconds is three times greater than what we would have in 30 seconds. We can be significantly more impactful in 90 seconds than 30.”
Another Downtown-based company also will make its first appearance on the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
GNC, whose headquarters is on Sixth Avenue, is purchasing a 30-second ad as part of their major marketing campaign they are calling One New GNC brand relaunch after struggling for the past three years.
The 84 Lumber Super Bowl ad will kick off aggressive expansion plans for 2017, helping the company reach its target audience of males age 20 to 29 years old. Mr. Brunner said the commercial will let everyone know the company exists and, more importantly, let everyone know the company is hiring.
The commercial will be the launching pad for 84 Lumber’s 2017 management trainee recruiting campaign. The company is looking to hire about 400 new employees.
“We are looking for people who want a career and want to learn management, not just another job,” Ms. Smiley said. “We want people who are interested in creating their own paths for themselves and 84 Lumber’s. We are casting a wide net. We don’t want only people who would think of 84 Lumber, but also those who wouldn’t.”
Not too long ago, an advertising campaign of this magnitude would have been out of the question for 84 Lumber.
The company had staked its fortunes on rising home appreciation and growing demand for building materials at the height of the nation’s housing boom in the early 2000s. But the housing market collapsed during the credit crunch around 2008.
The 60-year-old company, based in Eighty Four, saw its revenue drop from $5 billion in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2010. It had to sell substantial real estate holdings during the worst real estate market in history in order to raise $195 million needed to pay off high interest debt.
After selling $155 million of its real estate assets to chip away at the debt, 84 Lumber appealed to government officials in Fayette and Washington counties to support a federal loan application to pay off $55 million remaining on the 18 percent interest loan.
But six years after experiencing its darkest days, the company has come back with a vengeance as the nation’s housing market has steadily improved. With its balance sheet back in a healthy condition and revenues of $2.5 billion, 84 Lumber plans to grow again.
“The decision to do this ad was well-thought out,” Ms. Smiley said. “It wasn’t something we take lightly. We feel we will attract the smartest and most ambitious people.”
Tim Grant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1591.
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