Lowe's television campaign flexes new muscles

There's nothing unusual about Lowe's advertising to sports fans. Just ask Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson.

But there's something strikingly different about the latest Lowe's television commercial that aired repeatedly during the height of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Here's the difference boiled down to a single word: "testosterone."

No dancing families here. The commercial depicts men, some armed for demolition, taking their manliness to new levels during an outdoor home renovation project.

Lowe's declined to elaborate on its strategy behind the spot. But the new emphasis on the male consumer is obvious.

It's a universally accepted retail maxim that women drive purchase decisions, but there are some things that men buy more. A 2009 "Gender Roles in Home Improvement" report from the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) identified nails/screws/anchors as the most masculine merchandise in home improvement, followed by lumber (See chart).

Pushed to find differences between the two giant home centers, retail analysts have often played the sex card — Lowe's caters more to women, Home Depot more to men. But the reality is more complicated. For instance, if you want Martha Stewart, you go to the orange-colored home center.

The Lowe's commercial further complicates the overall perception of home center masculinity by concluding: "Every weekend is your chance to take the field." You don't have to be a man to appreciate the message. But it doesn't hurt.