July 22, 2024

Advertising: In a Switch, Craftsman Pitches Its Tools to the Unhandy

Now Craftsman is taking the unusual step of pitching to those who barely know which end of a hammer to hold.

In an online reality show, Craftsman is seeking someone who has “little to no tool skills whatsoever, but must be ready to face anything in pursuit of DIY knowledge,” according to contest guidelines.


In an online audition process that began June 20 and will run through Thursday, contestants submit two-minute videos describing their incompetence. Of about 300 submissions so far, those auditioning have admitted to such indignities as trying to impress a romantic interest by helping her assemble a desk only to put a gouge in it, and — because it seemed that it would help improve reception — sticking a radio antenna into an electrical outlet.

The submissions are hosted on the Craftsman YouTube channel, where users can vote for their favorites, with Craftsman considering the popular vote but making the final call.

For 10 weeks beginning in mid-August, the winner, who will be relocated to an apartment in Chicago, will be filmed receiving boot-camp-style carpentry training from experts. Then, as an online video describing the contest — by YR Chicago, part of Young Rubicam — puts it, “You’ll take part in extreme survival tests in the middle of nowhere.”

Ryan Ostrom, divisional vice president for digital marketing for the Craftsman, Kenmore and Diehard brands at Sears, said the subject would be led blindfolded into those situations and would be extricated only through meeting some construction challenge. Mr. Ostrom would give no further details, except to say the situations would be “uncommon to the everyday tool experience.”

Those challenges will be broadcast live online. The brand’s Facebook followers will be encouraged to offer tips and suggestions in a live-chat format.

So, while the point of the Web series ostensibly is to show the nonhandy that skills are within reach, the interactive element would validate the skills of existing consumers because they would be the ones throwing the neophyte a rope — or, more likely, a circular saw.


“The No. 1 attribute of our core users is that they love to share their knowledge and to teach other people,” Mr. Ostrom said.

The series will transform a “hapless person into a heavy user and do-it-yourselfer, plus create heroes within the Craftsman community that’s watching it,” said Kris Malkoski, vice president and general manager for the Craftsman brand.

In addition to the live broadcasts, parts of the challenge will be edited into about a dozen episodes of three to four minutes. The star of the series will win up to $50,000 if the challenges are successfully completed. Some Craftsman users who offer particularly helpful advice will be awarded some prizes, too, according to the brand, which declined to be more specific.

Being inextricably tied to the housing market, the home-improvement industry has struggled during the economic downturn but is showing some signs of bouncing back.

In 2010, 61 percent of consumers reported that they had completed a home-improvement project in the last 12 months, up from 43 percent who reported doing so in 2009, according to Mintel, a market research firm.

High unemployment can spur activity: among those who undertook projects in 2010, 23 percent worked on their houses more than usual because they were unemployed or working part time, up from 18 percent who reported doing so in 2008, according to Mintel. Many are spending money to save money, with 36 percent of do-it-yourselfers reporting in 2010 that they made improvements to reduce energy or water bills, up from 23 percent in 2008.

The demand for tools in the United States will rise 4.1 percent annually through 2014, when it is projected to reach $11 billion in total revenue, up from $9 billion in 2009, according to the Freedonia Group, a market research firm. Power tools account for 62 percent of the market, while hand tools — less expensive to begin with and less likely to break — account for 38 percent.

Since she was named general manager of the brand in 2009, Ms. Malkoski said, “We’ve been looking at ways to increase its stickiness.”

The brand has focused on engaging more consumers online, increasing its followers on Facebook to more than 415,000 from about 20,000 last summer. In Chicago last August, the brand opened Craftsman Experience, which it calls a “brand immersion center and social media hub,” where consumers can fire up power tools and talk to experts.

The facility also serves as a film studio for instructional videos and other new Web series the brand has undertaken, including “The Down and Dirty With Frank Fontana,” in which Mr. Fontana, who also hosts “Design on a Dime” on HGTV, collaborates with a team of carpenters employed by Craftsman on do-it-yourself projects.

Last year, Craftsman struck a deal to sell its tools in Ace Hardware stores, the first time they were sold outside Sears or Kmart, the department store also owned by Sears Holdings.

Many tool shoppers may be more in their element in a hardware store than in a Sears.

“We are finding that it’s just a wonderful opportunity to reach people who, for whatever reason, don’t find a mall to be a place to go for shopping for tools,” Ms. Malkoski said. “Hardware stores open at 7 in the morning, where the mall opens at 10, and someone coming from a construction site may feel too grungy to walk into a mall.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=7b4b68e3d11aab196dc7eac18ef46a75

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