One of the main stories coming out of the Super Bowl, in addition to the meltdown of our hometown Falcons (that still stings), was the “Wall” commercial by 84 Lumber.

We covered the topic in our blog, so we won’t belabor it, but the short story is 84 Lumber showed some real courage to take on a hot-button issue to promote their employee recruitment program. In our opinion, it was a masterstroke.

Well, 84 is back at it, this time with a slightly less controversial, but still attention-getting topic: a Mission to Mars.

The ad shows an astronaut in the midst of a space walk, while a voice-over describes NASA’s call for volunteers for a mission to Mars. “It takes ambition, a can-do attitude, and a lot of moxy to be chosen for one of the coveted positions in the universe,” the baritone voice says.

Then the payoff: “Runners up? We invite you to apply for our management trainee program at 84 Lumber.”

The ad is different than the “Wall” ad for obvious reasons. There are few political divides about sending people to the Red Planet. But there is one important similarity.

Like the “Wall,” the “Mars” ad plays on the ambitions of potential candidates. Both ads say that it takes a special kind of person to work at 84 Lumber. Someone who works hard, who’s driven to achieve, who won’t let seemingly insurmountable obstacles, border walls or the void of space, stand in their way.

These ads achieve two goals, reaching two audiences.

First, potential employees. Finding good people to work in the skilled trades, and tangential services, is becoming harder for companies to do. With most college graduates aspiring to design video games or become pop stars, there is not much interest in working in much less sexy vocations.

Some companies and industries have taken the approach of describing how easy it is to get a job and make a decent living in the trades. With so many openings, they are practically begging for candidates.

As the saying goes, when everyone zigs, you zag… and 84 is zagging. Their ads don’t indicate they want anyone with an active heartbeat to apply. They want people who possess a certain fire within. They are challenging candidates, daring them almost, to apply only if they think they have what it takes, because nothing less will do.

Will this approach increase the pool of available talent to the construction industry? Probably not. But we do think it will lead to the few in the talent pool to take a good, hard look at 84 as their next employer.

And that will help ensure they get the best people, which brings us to the other audience they’re reaching with the “Mars” ad: customers.

84 Lumber prides itself on providing the best customer service in the industry. After all, that’s what sets them apart.

They could go on and on about having the best products in the business, but that would be a hard case to make, since lumber is a commodity.

But by communicating their selectivity when it comes to their hiring practices, they are saying to their customers that they can expect only the best service when they go to an 84 Lumber location.

And most interestingly, no lumber was shown in the ad. No hammers being swung or homes being built. Only an 84 Lumber store at the end.

As in the “Wall” ad, 84 Lumber is showing through the “Mars” ad that they stand for something more than just products. They are where the best people in the industry work.

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