In Depth

Forecast in National Home Depot Spot Is Local

Home Depot has made a unique deal with NBC for spots that highlight the local weather forecast for consumers looking to do garden work over the weekend.

The unusual spot combines a live forecast, either localized or regionalized, with the reach of a national advertising buy. Also, it is designed to hold the attention of viewers who might zip, zap, fast-forward or otherwise avoid a less relevant commercial message.

Mark Dorrill, media manager for the Home Depot, says the idea grew out of discussions with NBC and media agency Initiative during last year’s upfront.

The campaign is timed to lawn and garden season, normally one of the busiest times of the year for Home Depot.

“It allows us to be as locally relevant with the weather forecast as possible,” Mr. Dorrill says. “It’s somewhat unique to be able to take this national primetime spot and actually deliver a locally relevant weekend weather forecast that helps our consumers plan their weekend projects.”

The campaign launched Thursday during NBC’s “Southland.”

The ads start with a five-second open promising a forecast to help viewers plan their weekend that carries both NBC and Home Depot branding and shows a Home Depot staffer lifting a tray of flowers.

“It was very important that this did not look like another commercial. We wanted it to really catch the viewer’s eye right away,” Mr. Dorrill says.

Next, the spot presents a 15-second regional forecast from the Weather Channel. In 50 markets, NBC has arranged for the local weather anchor to provide a local forecast for the weekend. (The station is able to promote its weather and upcoming newscast.)

In the final 10 seconds, the Home Depot will tout a gardening project, such as planting vegetables or growing a lawn from seed.

In the markets where there is a local forecast, the sign-off will be tied to the local weather, as in, “Looks like a great time to plant some vegetables.” Those tags will be inserted by the local station based on guidelines created by Home Depot. If the temperature is expected to be less than 50 degrees and it’s not clear, the spot ends with, “When the weather clears, it will be a great time to plant some vegetables.”

Each spot will conclude with a lawn and garden tip.

The weather spot is followed by a traditional 30-second ad for Home Depot.

“It’s sort of like a podbuster on steroids,” says George Newi, senior VP at Initiative.

“Most home improvement purchases are done on Saturday and Sunday, so we’re trying to drive toward weekends as well,” Mr. Newi says.

The ads will run for a total of five weeks in NBC series including “Law & Order,” “30 Rock,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Parks & Recreation.”

Home Depot says NBC didn’t charge a premium for the media time. Programming on Thursday night usually is among a network’s highest-priced inventory because retailers, movie studios and other marketers pay a premium to reach consumers as they’re making their weekend plans.

Shari Post, VP of primetime sales at NBC, says Home Depot paid a production fee to have the ads created, and that the campaign led to incremental sales for the network.

"We're very happy with the way it came out. It does take a lot of time and a collaborative effort for it to come out right," Ms. Post says.

“We saw this as a unique and interesting idea,” says Mr. Dorrill of Home Depot. “So far we have been very pleased and very excited about it.”

Home Depot already has seen some positive feedback to the campaign on Twitter.

The spots carry Home Depot’s new slogan, “More Saving, More Doing.”

“That seems to be the right message in these challenging times. It’s all about value,” Mr. Dorrill says.

As the economy has weakened, Mr. Dorrill says, Home Depot has continued its national advertising.

“It’s a challenging environment in the retail business and the home improvement business, but we have been kind of maintaining our activity,” he says.

The campaign ends May 15.

“Then we go into the upfront and we talk about next year,” he says.

(Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET.)