Ace Hardware approached BSMG Worldwide in July 1999 after an established relationship with Bozell Advertising, its sister advertising agency, with the need to expand their advertising programs and drive more consumers into their stores.  For more than 75 years Ace Hardware has fostered a reputation as the “helpful hardware folks” and for having high quality products. Yet many people perceived Ace as a store simply for only tools and hardware, not a place to go for organization.
BSMG created Organize Your Life, a national campaign to show Americans that the advice and supplies they need to get their homes in order at the start of a new year, are as close as Ace Hardware.  Organize Your Life, launched in January 2000, educated consumers how to tackle a problem faced by many Americans in the wake of the holiday season: getting their homes organized.  BSMG discovered through a survey of parents and children that although they disliked cleaning up their messes, their largest barrier to overcome in getting organized was they did not know where to begin.  Organize Your Life simplified this problem by communicating that Ace organizational experts can teach consumers where to start to reorganize any room in the house. The program also was the perfect opportunity to position Ace Hardware to the public as the one-stop shop for essential organizational advice and a full line of supplies.
With this initiative, we faced an important hurdle that could have impacted our success: localizing the story.  With the more than 5,100 Ace stores nationwide, we had to ensure that consumers could look to their local Ace for their home organizational needs.  In order to include these stores in our effort, BSMG developed fill-in the-blank style press materials to distribute to each store.  The materials were easily adaptable for each particular store to use in publicity efforts within their communities.  The materials reintroduced these community stores as local home organizational experts and gave stores an entrée to talk to local reporters, often for the first time.
We had two main objectives to address our target audience. 
  • Build upon Ace’s existing reputation as the “helpful hardware folks”
  • Get the word out to consumers that Ace Hardware is the destination for all home improvement needs

To generate consumer excitement about getting organized, a task most people dislike, BSMG created America’s Messiest Room Contest, a search for the most cluttered rooms in the country.  Ace launched the contest by first tackling one of the most disorganized, chaotic homes America: the home of the McCaughey septuplets.  Ace demonstrated if they could get the McCaughey family in tip-top shape, any family could get organized. With the McCaugheys as spokespeople and judges for the contest, BSMG launched a VNR announcing the contest which said the national winner would be named in April, just in time for Spring cleaning.  BSMG also selected Deniece Schofield, a professional organizer and author of Confessions of an Organized Homemaker, to help communicate easy organizational tips for the program.
Our steps for success:
Poll the Target Audience - The Ace Clutter Index was a poll of more than 2,000 parents and kids that determined 85 percent of families surveyed said the holidays left them feeling disorganized, drowning in wrapping paper and unable to store all the new gifts. Only 10 percent felt their homes were organized. The survey results were incorporated into press materials as well as the kickoff VNR.  The findings also revealed that more than half of the adults surveyed did not know where to turn for the advice to get organized.  Organize Your Life answered this call for help by publicizing Ace as the place for the right advice and supplies, reintroducing Ace in consumers’ minds as more than just a hardware store, but the first place for home organization.
Create a Press Kit - The national press materials incorporated the Ace Clutter Index findings to demonstrate the need for immediate help to get American’s homes in order.  The materials announced the first-ever America’s Messiest Room Contest featuring the McCaugheys and long-time Ace pitchman John Madden as celebrity judges.  The contest asked that people submit a photo of a messy room and a 25-word explanation of how getting the room organized would help them get ready for the new millennium.  Nine different room categories for the contest showcased all the rooms in a home where Ace can turn clutter into control.  Kit elements also included a tip sheet from Deniece Schofield; topline survey findings; and a list of organizational must-have’s for every room in the house. 
VNR - America’s Messiest Room Contest kicked off with a VNR starring the McCaughey septuplet family just as the children were entering their terrible two’s.  Footage included interviews with the McCaugheys describing their struggle to stay organized; “before” shots of their messy home; the Ace Organizing team revamping their home; and “after” shots of their new organized rooms.  The VNR raised awareness about the contest as well as told how any family can count on Ace to come to the rescue.
Ask the Expert - BSMG tapped Schofield, a home organizer and author, as the noted expert on home organization and the McCaugheys as a American family with the same organizational challenges facing other families, albeit on a larger scale.  Their selection added value to the program, and their presence was utilized in press materials and the VNR.
In its first year, America’s Messiest Room Contest achieved phenomenal results.  BSMG garnered nearly 89 million media impressions and more than 3,200 people entered the contest.  Most importantly, BSMG helped fulfill its objection of changing public perception of Ace Hardware.  As the thousands of contest entries attest, people looked to Ace for help in getting their homes organized.  BSMG also secured substantial media placements on national and local levels.
  • 89 local TV segments – including Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington and Detroit
  • 2 national TV segments – including a 3-minute Entertainment Tonight segment
  • 2 Web site placements – including
  • 165 newspaper articles including 2 national placements in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Local placements included the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Detroit Free Press, San Francisco Chronicle, and Houston Chronicle
  • More than 3,200 contest entries
Total Media Impressions: 88.5 million