Store of the Living Dead

Discussion
Oct 21, 2011
George Anderson

Zombies, we’ve been told recently, are this year’s vampires. “The Walking Dead” on AMC as well as a whole host of video games are helping to drive the zombie popularity wave in the media. But despite this attention, zombies remain an underclass in American society. All that cannibalistic behavior has a way of making the living uneasy around the living dead.

The Westlake Ace Hardware store in Lenexa, KS, seeing a market opportunity, set up its own Zombie Preparedness Center. According to the store’s website, “Zombie attacks can create a big mess inside and outside your home, and Westlake has all the supplies you need to handle zombie destruction of any kind.”

What Westlake apparently did not count on was the reaction of the zombie community. Hearing of the Preparedness Center, the living dead took to the picket line outside the hardware store. (News footage captured the scene.)

Westlake reacted swiftly and began promoting itself as an “Equal Zombortunity” retailer. With products including air fresheners and sealants, Westlake boasted it has all the products any zombie would need for bodily repairs and home maintenance. According to the store’s website, “Just because you’re rotting doesn’t mean your home has to smell like it. Westlake has all you need for home maintenance, so you can keep up with the living.”

The store’s response seems to have worked as the organization ZombiesUnite.org certified Westlake as zombie friendly business. The number of zombie shoppers has increased substantially since the announcement. “Clean up in aisle nine.”

Discussion Questions: What do you think of Westlake Ace Hardware’s approach to the zombie opportunity in home maintenance and repair?

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12 Comments on "Store of the Living Dead"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Hysterical! So smart, so creative — the very best of retail! And its in Kansas! Love it!

Now if we could just get the other zombie retailers to come alive, we’d all live happily ever after!

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
9 years 6 months ago

There hasn’t been a whole lot of fun or humor in corporate America in recent years (or ever, really). Good for Westlake Ace Hardware for taking a light approach to Halloween. Now a zombie section in Nordstroms would really be something….

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 6 months ago

Westlake ACE is on the money when it comes to differentiating itself from the competition. Things like this can easily go viral which is the cheapest way to market your brand. Hardware always had trouble capitalizing on Halloween. The question is, how do they split up the store? Anti zombie and zombie friendly? I hope they use shelf talkers and POP to correctly sign everything. And do they have anything for girls who are 4 and 7 who turn zombie-like when watching The Disney Channel?

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
9 years 6 months ago

Clearly the effort has already gone viral, if we’re commenting on it on RetailWire! But I agree, it’s great to see someone having fun. Ace is a chain that is perfectly designed for that kind of initiative, with more of a franchise approach. I wonder — would a Walmart, Target, Home Depot, or Lowe’s be able to pull that off? Or would corporate adherence to brand squelch such a creative idea?

Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
9 years 6 months ago

Fantastic! Talk about using simple social media to make people smile and like — the old fashion way, not the button πŸ˜‰ — your brand. As it turns out, you don’t always need mobile and complex social media schemes to get people to talk about and visit your stores. Thumbs up for creativity and delivery.

Carlos Arambula
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Brilliant! It’s an underserved consumer segment….

A bold move in a category where the giants dominate share of voice and share of mind.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

A Wonderful Fun Fad! Why not fend off the Zombies? Or Become one?

Great idea for Halloween… and Valentine’s Day too! If you doubt that last remark — check out this website. πŸ™‚ Enjoy.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
9 years 6 months ago

Wow! One of the most original and creative ads I’ve seen for a local market in many moons.

I would love to hear how Westlake Ace performs over the fall/holiday period. If they are as good at merchandising, operations and customer service as they are at marketing it could be a great fall for them!

James Tenser
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Makes me hungry for brains. BrainTrust…. hmmmmmmm…

Dennis Serbu
Guest
Dennis Serbu
9 years 6 months ago

Zombies? Recall the 1940’s classic by Bob Hope of “Ghost Breakers“? Zombies were individuals raised from the dead with no will of their own, blindly following orders. We may have a new customer cluster!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 6 months ago

As a Topeka native, I’m very familiar with Lenexa, KS, just a few miles outside my home town. The Channel 13 featured in the ACE Hardware spot is the actual CBS affiliate in Topeka, WIBW. And the zombies? Well, my 45th H.S. reunion took place recently, and even though I didn’t attend, I have it on good authority from one who did that the casting crew for the ACE Hardware TV ad was there recruiting our old classmates to be zombies. No makeup required.

My buddy GMROI (often published here) sent me a couple of YouTube links I found extremely entertaining and particularly apropos to this discussion: http://is.gd/XGV4Uq and http://is.gd/tCjdVA. You’ve got to hand it to Bob Hope. Classic humorist.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Halloween is becoming the most anticipated holiday of the year just because of its ‘make-believe’ aspect. It is no wonder it has started to have annual themes to make each year better and different.

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