Last Sunday saw the final closure of Woolworth’s Masters Home Improvement stores, and some competitors have taken the opportunity to do some cheeky guerrilla marketing.
A photo posted on Reddit over the weekend shows a Home Timber and Hardware (HTH) truck is parked out the front of a Masters store.
An advertisement on the side of the truck states “The true masters are still selling hardware”, accompanied with Home Timber and Hardware branding.
Marketing expert at Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble told SmartCompany the move is a crafty bit of guerrilla marketing aimed to get people talking.
“They’re trying to target the media and people online who will think it’s clever and share it,” Gamble says.
“It’s guerrilla marketing, piggybacking off something else major that’s happening. We usually see it at the launch of new products or stores, so it’s a bit unusual to see it happen at a closing.”
With over 1000 votes on Reddit and more than 60 comments, the intention to get people talking has succeeded. Gamble believes as HTH is a smaller brand compared to Bunnings or the late Masters, the cheeky marketing is a “great” way to leverage attention from the store’s closure.
As for coming off insensitive or rude, Gamble thinks there’s a low risk of that.
“It could be seen as insensitive, but most people will view it as quite clever marketing,” she says.
“HTH could also be trying to encourage good staff with a knowledge of hardware to hand their CVs into some of their stores.”
Masters workers have previously told SmartCompany working during the closing down process was stressful, but one family member of a Masters employee who posted on Facebook last week said the experience had made “soldiers” of the staff.
“All of the ups and downs, tears, sweat, blood…its [sic] all been worth it, to watch her become the soldier that she is now, irregardless [sic] of the emotion she will show on Sunday when the door is closed for the final time!” the post read.
HTH has a new owner after Woolworths’ hardware exit.
Woolworths once owned Home Timber and Hardware, before the company sold the stores to Metcash in a $165 million dollar deal, when Woolworths announced exit from the hardware world earlier this year. The deal with Metcash for the HTH was completed at the end of October.
The acquisition boosted Metcash to 900-store strong player in the Australian hardware sector.
With all Masters stores closing down on Sunday, future of the 61 Masters stores and further 21 development sites are still unclear. The 82 total sites have been purchased for $830 million by Home Consortium.
The Home Consortium group includes Chemist Warehouse owners Mario Verrochi and Jack Gance, UBS banker David Di Pilla, and Spotlight Retail Group owners Zac Fried and Morry Fraid, who claimed 19 of the development sites last month.
However, the path to taking control of the sites has been complicated – with a number of landlords from Masters retail sites are reportedly considering legal action, questioning whether Woolworths had the right to sell the stores to Home Consortium. Landlords were reportedly expressing their concerns as recently as November.
SmartCompany contacted Metcash to confirm the advertisement pictured came from the Home Timber and Hardware business, but did not receive a response prior to publication.