What is it about that Lowe’s ad?

Searches on some combination of terms referring to the Lowe’s “calming green” ad featuring Valspar paint continue to be a major source of visits to this blog (to the post on “Kids and Kommercialism IV” in which I discuss the ad), and I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is about this ad that has everyone so excited.

It’s an okay ad – though only because of that “calming green” moment, which makes it memorable and effective – but it isn’t close to being the best or most interesting ad on TV at the moment. Just off the top of my head, the competing Honda Insight and Prius ads seem much more appealing. So what is it about that Lowe’s ad?

I have this fantasy that all these searches for information on the ad are being conducted by harried parents around the country, one step away from infanticide, who are leaping at the promise of a paint that will get their kids to sit down, shut up and do their homework. They weren’t able to convince the doctor to put the kids on Ritalin, so this is their last hope.

Here are some of the search phrases that have led people to my post on the ad:

color lowes commercial girl and boy reading books
lowe’s valspar calming color commercial
lowes paint calming green on tv ad
lowe’s calming green paint commercial
commercial for lowes featruing calming green
“media literacy”
lowes coomercial calming green
what book is the little girl reading…

The “calming green” phrase is the obvious way to refer to the ad, so I don’t think we can read much into its use; it can’t be assumed that it is necessarily this color, or its reputed effect, that people are seeking more information on. The specific mentions of the books are more interesting, but I don’t know what to put those questions down to – are people just curious? And anyway doesn’t everyone have enormous flat screen TVs with Tivo these days, making it easy to read the book titles?

Googling the first of these search phrases, my blog entry is the third result listed. First is a question posted on Yahoo! Answers by James who saw the ad while watching Lost:

My Question is, while I can clearly see that the boy is reading War and Peace, I cannot make out on my television set what the girl is reading, my best guess would be Pride and Prejudice, as that fits the length of the words, but I think the first word might be sense. This is driving me Crazy, please help!

Someone told James that they thought it was “Sense and Sensibility.” I was surprised that someone would know “Pride and Prejudice” and make out the word “sense” and not get to “Sense and Sensibility,” but having had blank moments myself I am sympathetic.

Running the second of the above search phrases through Google yields a webpage from a Lowe’s site on “creative ideas for home and garden” as the first result, with my blog entry third again. In between is an entry for a Lowe’s design brochure on the Scribd site. Interestingly, this extended (31 page) catalog/brochure was posted by “api_user_11797_villie” who hasn’t posted anything else. But other editions of the same Lowe’s “magazine” have been posted by other users: api_user_11797_Ire (also no other posts) and icile.

My best guess would be that those two “api” users are bots working for Lowe’s. I mean, can you actually imagine someone taking the time to scan in one of these brochures and post it on the internet? Which brings us to that other Scribd user, icile. Icile looks like a stronger contender for an actual person. His/her other 21 posted documents on Scribd include two books on erotic massage, two other massage books, the November 2008 issue of PC Magazine and – in addition to the Lowe’s Creative Ideas for Home and Garden – two different Ikea catalogs, for wardrobes and for kitchens. It’s a weird collection of posts, and almost certainly some or all of them are copyright violations, which tends to argue against icile being a shill for some company or ad agency. But that still leaves the question “why” – why post such a miscellanea of material, in particular with those free, ephermeral catalogs? Just how strange and trivial is the internet getting?

(If those “api” users are bots working on behalf of Lowe’s, then they might be a project of Tribal DDB, the Omnicom Group agency hired in 2007 to “develop and implement all e-marketing initiatives for the home-improvement retailer,” according to Advertising Age [here].)

Googling the third of the above search phrases – “lowes paint calming green on tv ad” – my blog post is again at number three and that Yahoo! Answers entry at number one. The second entry is for a post on WikiAnswers.com asking who plays the “wift” (presumably “wife”) in the ad. No one has answered.

Going through the search phrases that people have been using to research the Lowe’s ad hasn’t done anything to explain the level of interest in this ad (which still has not be posted to YouTube despite this interest). Maybe it really is about people desperate for a solution to their out-of-control kids.

This search of searches has, however, thrown up some mildly interesting, unrelated things – such as the strangeness of icile’s collection of documents on Scribd, and the (apparent) robot posting of commercial advertising material on that site.

For more information on Ritalin, see the Wikipedia entry for Methylphenidate, the generic name for the drug.

UPDATE: A portion of this Lowe’s ad is now available on YouTube:

One response to “What is it about that Lowe’s ad?

  1. Paint color can influence behavior, obviously it will not have the same results as it does in the commercial though. The explanation: Sensory Integration Theory. The way a child behaves can be influenced by the sensory information around them (wall paint color). Bright colors are stimulating, mellow colors are calming.

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