Advertising and Marketing

Whirlpool Brings TLC to Sandy Relief Efforts

Vignettes highlight sponsor’s role in helping Atlantic City victims 6/03/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Not many people come back from
Atlantic City as winners, but Discovery
Communications and Whirlpool
didn’t go there to gamble. Both companies were
involved in helping to rebuild homes in the city
devastated by Superstorm Sandy. So when the
time came to create some vignettes for the marketer,
the Jersey Shore became a focus.

When the new home improvement series
Honey Do premieres on June 17 in primetime
on Discovery’s TLC, vignettes featuring three of
the show’s handymen hosts—Jonathan Waud,
Kevin Peake and Benjamin Patterson—who
pitched in at Atlantic City, will air in promotional
time. The Honey Do trio will tell viewers
that Whirlpool donated appliances for the
rebuilt homes. The vignette shows a Whirlpool
truck delivering washers and dryers, as well as
some of the grateful homeowners.

John Barry, senior VP for ad sales at TLC, said
the vignettes came together extraordinarily fast.

Whirlpool had already bought its schedule
of commercials and would be advertising
products it had not featured on the network
before, including washers and dryers.

“The viewers of TLC align nicely with the
consumers we’re trying to market to, so it’s a
natural fit for us,” says Janet Johnson, associate
brand manager for Whirlpool.

Like most advertisers buying significant
ad packages, Whirlpool would also get some
branded content in the form of integrations,
vignettes and billboards.

“Back in early April their agency, Optimedia,
came to us looking for some really good
ideas,” Barry says. TLC called in its sales marketing
team, as well as the network’s marketing
team. “What really resonated well was the
Atlantic City project.”

More than 125 Discovery Communications
employees and on-air talent converged
on Ventnor City, a suburb of Atlantic City, to
work with Habitat for Humanity last month
as part of the media company’s Discovery Impact
initiative. In addition to the guys from
Honey Do, Buddy Valastro of TLC’s Cake Boss
and Dave Salmoni of Animal Planet took part
in the effort. Also showing up for work were
Ventnor City mayor Mike Bagnell and New
Jersey governor Chris Christie. (In 2011, Discovery
employees rebuilt homes in suburbs of
Birmingham, Ala. hit by tornadoes.)

Whirlpool has worked with Habitat for Humanity
for 13 years, contributing more than
$78 million in cash and merchandise. TLC
approached Whirlpool about joining in the
Atlantic City effort, especially since the Honey
talent would be involved. “We felt like
partnering with that show was a natural for
us,” says Whirlpool’s Johnson.

In Atlantic City, Whirlpool donated 30 household
appliances including washing machines,
dryers, dishwashers, ranges and refrigerators.
The appliances were installed by Discovery volunteers,
working with Habitat’s people.

Creating vignettes around the Atlantic City
effort was a great fit, Barry says. “We probably
turned this around in a two-to-three-week time
frame,” he says. “One of the keys was getting
great cooperation on the approval process. There
was a very tight timetable for us to work with.”

The vignettes will be accompanied by traditional
spots from Whirlpool. Initially, a vignette
will air during Honey Do, but it will also appear
on other shows on the network. Whirlpool
will also get on-air billboards highlighting
its sponsorship.

Whirlpool doesn’t normally trumpet its work
with Habitat for Humanity on TV. “It is something
Whirlpool and the Whirlpool Corp. are
obviously proud of, but not necessarily something
we led with in marketing. This is a little
different in the way we’re approaching it,” says
Johnson. “We put this together in less than two
weeks’ time. It was amazing, but well worth it.
We’re excited to be a part of it.”

E-mail comments to and follow
him on Twitter: @jlafayette

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