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Lowe’s CMO Marisa Thalberg: ‘No Pulling Back’ On Advertising During Pandemic.

As an essential business allowed to stay open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, home improvement giant Lowe’s views the health crisis as something that has only magnified its purpose. With that in mind, recently named Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg says now is not the time to pull back on advertising. The former Global Chief Brand Officer of Taco Bell also believes audio “is an important medium” for the retailer’s 2,200-store portfolio.

“I believe we are a mass brand that deserves a place to tell stories in broadcast media,” Thalberg tells AdAge in an interview. “This has been a good time for that as viewership has been quite high, relative to previous months and years, because people are at home.”

The CMO says the retail giant’s media strategy also includes paid search, social media and radio. “We think audio is also an important medium,” she says, adding that each channel in its media mix brings its own unique strengths. “We’re starting to see how we parse the storytelling differently,” says Thalberg. “One of the things I enjoy about being a large brand is it gives you a sandbox of different channels and different ways of figuring out how to connect and communicate and right now there’s no pulling back on any of that.”

Even before she joined Lowe’s in February, after heading up marketing at Taco Bell, the home improvement chain was a consistent radio user. Lowe’s ranked No. 5 on Media Monitors’ list of the top 100 radio advertisers of 2019 with 1.4 million ad occurrences. Rival The Home Depot topped the 2019 tally with 2.6 million ad detections in the 85 markets tracked by Media Monitors. In the latest spot count, for the week of April 27-May 3, Lowe’s was No. 7. And with springtime garden work atop many to-do lists, the chain has ranked as high as No. 2 in recent weeks.

Thalberg joined Lowe’s just before coronavirus-related lockdowns began across the country, making for an unusually challenging experience in getting acclimated. “I would definitely say this is not the immersion and onboarding experience I had anticipated,” she tells AdAge. Still living in California, where she was based while working at Taco Bell, she has been unable to make the move to Lowe’s corporate headquarters in Moorseville, NC, where the rest of her marketing team is based.

“Certainly all of us are feeling like this is a test of our agility as leaders. I’m trying to roll with it that way,” she offers. “I’m very appreciative of the technology that’s enabled me to continue to learn and onboard and get to know people within my team and outside of my team.”

Not only has Thalberg been forced to start her new gig remotely, the pandemic has “necessitated a complete transformation of our communication strategy to be responsive to the times in which we’re living, she adds. “That was not the plan to move this quickly and this radically.”

Read the complete Q&A in AdAge HERE.

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