EC2 Productions + Lowe’s Home Improvement
Branded Content Case Study
Half a million Americans ‘cut the cord’ last quarter alone. The shift to digital streaming has presented an opportunity for brands to create long-lasting content at a fraction of traditional marketing costs. This case study demonstrates the success East Coast Creative Productions (EC2) has had over the past 20 months creating a new branded content strategy for one of the nation’s largest home improvement retailers.
EC2 was commissioned by Lowe’s Home Improvement to embark on a new and innovative marketing strategy that would utilize the company’s social platforms to grow consumer loyalty, increase brand trust, and empower viewers with attainable how-to content.
EC2 proposed the concept of ‘becoming the objective’. As an alternative to investing money in a :30 commercial spot during an HGTV-type network show, EC2 would instead create Lowe’s own, original home renovation series, thus becoming the objective of the viewer, rather than an interruption to their viewing objective.
EC2 proposed a lightly-branded digital video series that would be entertaining and informative, while not feeling like a commercial for the viewer. The strategy was to reach consumers who would tune in every week to be inspired by the ideas/projects in the series, then turn to Lowe’s to purchase the products they needed to tackle similar renovations in their own homes.
After developing a variety of concepts for Lowe’s to consider, the final series format landed on transforming one space in a home over the course of a weekend. The host would work with average homeowners to teach them DIY skills, focusing on 5 main projects throughout the weekend.
The goal was to make the series look and feel just like a show on HGTV, but to be much more relatable - featuring projects on a scale that was actually attainable for the average homeowner. “The Weekender” even improved upon the standard HGTV model with a higher production value, increased viewer takeaway, and an updated, faster pace that’s better aligned with the digital content age.
Over the course of 20 months, EC2 produced 4 seasons of The Weekender - a total of 44 episodes.
Each episode showcased a different, unique space with product integration aligning alongside Lowe’s key marketing priorities. The dramatic before and after transformations of the rooms made viewers believers. The Weekender truly is the perfect balance of attainable projects and incredible results - spaces that have that ‘wow’ factor and make viewers want to try to replicate them in their own homes.
Episodes were posted every Tuesday on Lowe’s Youtube Channel to promote regular viewership. The show was also distributed on Apple TV and Roku and additional social content was shared throughout the week on various platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
Weekender Season 1 Launch Trailer
The commitment to organically branded content drove all integration decisions. EC2 wanted to ensure that Lowe's had a strong presence throughout the series, while maintaining the delicate balance that kept it from feeling like a commercial.
The most prominent Lowe’s specific branding consisted of a “Lowes Presents: The Weekender” graphic at the top of each episode.
Throughout the show the host and homeowners used Lowe’s specific tools and priority items to complete each renovation- discussing product benefits, value, and homeowner friendliness in a natural, organic way.
Lowe’s priority vendors were also consistently featured throughout episodes to increase brand familiarity - HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams, Purdy Paint Brushes, 3M protective gear, etc.
EC2 also created a variety of supplemental short-form social assets that expanded the reach of The Weekender and the Lowe’s brand. Originating from the series, this content was designed to provide additional relevant 'on trend' material that could be used across various social platforms. The atomization was rich in value and used extensively by Lowe’s across Facebook, Instagram, IGTV, Pinterest, and YouTube.
YOUTUBE SUBSCRIBEr GROWTH
- Lowes Youtube Channel Subscribers increased by over 140% from 231K in June 2016 to 554K in June 2018 (323K new subscribers)
- The series has over 50 million views (and millions more for social short form content)
- Lowes saw a tremendous increase in viewership and engagement over 20 months.
- Strategic collaborations with YouTube influencers were implemented to launch Weekender seasons - a highly successful and more organic approach to generate views vs. paid promotion.
- Viewer comments show a direct viewer to consumer correlation.
The Weekender home improvement series demonstrates a pioneering way to look at brand marketing with video - increasing consumer engagement, growing brand loyalty, turning viewers into consumers and most importantly, creating branded content that people actually want to watch!