What do “Desperate Housewives,” “The Munsters” and Lowe’s have in common? Homes on the same street.
Yes, that’s Wisteria Lane, or for you 1960s TV fans, Mockingbird Lane, serving as the backdrop in “House Love,” an ad released by Lowe’s this spring. The short film has been viewed more than 18 million times on YouTube and aired during the season finale of “The Voice.” But as always in Hollywood, there’s more to the story.
Lowe’s marketing team enlisted ad agency partner BBDO New York to create a short film that would resonate with customers and how they feel about their homes. Lowe’s wanted to explore the idea that a house is a house, but a home is so much more.
“With House Love, we wanted to create an emotional connection and make consumers think about Lowe’s differently — beyond the products and transactions. Home is already an emotional space for people and storytelling is a powerful way to create that connection,” said Marci Grebstein, Lowe’s Chief Marketing Officer.
In the three-minute “House Love,” viewers see a love story unfold between two young neighbors, Ben and Sally (Sal), while their faithful homes watch every milestone as the years pass.
As the agency began brainstorming the storyline, creative directors Mandy Hoveyda and Amy Nicholson recognized that a home is really part of the family.
“It has feelings, longings, good days and bad ones just like the people who live in it,” Hoveyda said. “And the more we looked at pictures of homes, we started to see faces with different personalities. That led to a discussion about the lives of those homes and how much they do for us and the possibility that we can do something for them, too. Like giving them a little love when they need it.”
To give the homes some personality, the team decided to film on a backlot at Universal Studios. The backlot provided more flexibility for filming and bringing the homes to life. It also gave Lowe’s a Hollywood connection; the homes featured in “House Love” were used during production for “Desperate Housewives,” “Matlock,” “Animal House,” “The Munsters” and “Murder She Wrote.”
“It was very important to all of us involved that the house expressions felt real and organic,” Executive Producer Ashley Henderson said. “We tried to treat all their reactions as if they were characters in the story and they were reacting as humans would in a certain situation. We never wanted the reactions to feel like trickery, or obviously computer generated.”
Most of the action taking place at the homes – window blinds raising and lowering, lights flickering, hammock swinging – was filmed on site and not generated by computers.
“The whimsical twist of the homes coming to life was the unexpected element that helped set this story apart and resonate in people’s hearts and minds,” said Tim Bayne, BBDO’s executive creative director.
Ten actors were used to tell the life story of the two main characters and their 5-year-old son, Max. Lowe’s casted the most talent it’s ever used for an ad, as well as the largest wardrobe.
The group chose a newer version of the Carpenters’ 1970 hit single “We’ve Only Just Begun” to play in the background. The song played an important role in this film, which is why the short film aired in its entirety during “The Voice,” something Lowe’s had not done before.
“We fell in love with the song against the picture as soon as our editor showed it to us. It seemed to harken to a more innocent time, bringing out the joy and hesitation of first love while supporting the emotion and sensitivity of long-term relationships. Simply said, it just felt right for both the houses and the people,” BBDO Creative Director Nicholson wrote.