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Zombie Headquarters

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It’s probably not the first place you’d think to shop for zombie preparedness. Heck, it’s probably not the second place either. But the Westlake Ace Hardware store in Kansas is billing itself as the one-stop shop for any and all zombie preparedness needs for the living -- and the undead, too.

Harnessing the booming zombie trend, the Westlake Ace Hardware launched the social media campaign in an effort to engage and entice younger shoppers.

“We knew that if we were going to get noticed by this younger demographic, we’d need to be willing to try some things with the brand we hadn’t done before,” said Liz Benditt, director of customer relationship development for the store. “And it’s paying off.”

Westlake Hardware’s current customer base is primarily adults ages 40 and older; the zombie campaign is aimed at younger adults, ages 25 to 40. The retailer worked with Bozell marketing agency to develop the Halloween plan which leverages Facebook and Twitter in the quest to connect.
While it certainly seems outside the norm for a hardware store, Benditt insists the message is consistent with the core brand message: Namely that it is the place for do-it-yourselfers to get supplies and expert assistance for any project -- even if it’s zombie protection and assistance for the undead.

Just how trendy is this zombie thing? This weekend’s debut of “The Walking Dead” attracted 7.3 million viewers -- a record 4.8 million among adults ages 18 to 49. Meanwhile Google statistics show how the following zombie-related searches were trending as of September, 2011. Zombies: 16,600,000 unique searches; Zombie Survival: 165,000 unique searches; Zombie Apocalypse: 165,000 unique searches.