HORNBACH, the DIY and gardening megastore, created a real-world and online mystery by having letters mysteriously disappear from store signs and reappear in the most unexpected places.
With a decades-long series of daring TV commercials, HORNBACH has established itself as the DIY and gardening megastore that enables customers to be their most inventive selves. But younger consumers, who typically don’t watch TV, haven’t noticed. Time to change that.
In 2022, we initiated a mystery that played out in the real world and online. Letters began to disappear from the signs of HORNBACH stores and reappear in the strangest of places. From Twitch, to music videos, the internet began to erupt with memes and speculation.
We then released a mini-documentary that revealed the culprits to be a gang of creative renegades. To them, the letters represented DIY values we’re missing in our time and culture.
The campaign exploded in popularity as images of the missing letters continued to circulate, transforming the logo into a symbol of creativity, freedom, and proactive spirit.
The campaign created an entirely new community for HORNBACH. Online, people exchanged theories, created memes and sent in leads.
On TikTok alone, user-generated videos on the subject received more than 11 million views. Combined with the company’s own content, the campaign was viewed more than 28 million times on social media platforms. Twitch streams with the letters in the background were watched for over 860,000 minutes and more than 100 international news outlets picked up the story. In total, the campaign generated more than 600 million impressions across all channels, while visits to the HORNBACH website increased by 500%.
The campaign made such a cultural impact in Germany, that three of the letters became permanent exhibits at the German Letter Museum in Berlin.