Craftsman to build a 'House United' at party conventions

HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL: Sears' Craftsman brand has kicked off a program for the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions to support the country's military veterans.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL: Sears' Craftsman brand has kicked off a program for the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions to support the country's military veterans.

The “House United” campaign will build a home for a deserving veteran with the help of delegates to the two conventions, said Larry Costello, PR director for Sears Holding Company and the Craftsman brand. Sears launched the effort with Rebuilding Together, Heroes at Home, Champion Home Builders, and Bank of America.

“We think it's important that while Americans may not always agree on political philosophies, this is a community service initiative that honors a military hero and is something that everybody can agree on,” he explained.

Half of a home will be built at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, on August 28, and the other half will be constructed during the Democratic event in Charlotte, NC, on September 3.

Craftsman will engage local bloggers and media outlets around the time of each event, said Costello. In October, the company will combine the two halves in Charlotte, where the winning veteran will also be revealed.  

Sears declined to say what PR agencies are working on the initiative. The retailer expanded its work with Zeno Group in May. It also works with Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, as well as Alison Brod on fashion communications.  

To get consumers involved, Costello said Craftsman created a tab on its Facebook page where fans can “follow the action, see photos from the events coming up, and also sign a petition to encourage their state delegates to participate while they're at the conventions.”

He added that from a PR standpoint, Craftsman's goal is to be “disruptive and to show up in unexpected places,” similar to how the brand brought a tractor to the Detroit Auto Show in January.

In addition to leveraging its Facebook page, which has nearly 1 million fans, the brand has engaged Ty Pennington, the Emmy Award-winning host of Extreme Makeover, as its spokesperson.

Pennington, who helped to launch the campaign on Monday in New York with an interview on CNN's Starting Point, is tweeting to encourage fans to log onto Craftsman's Facebook page to get involved, said Costello. He also began a satellite media tour on Tuesday to discuss the initiative.

Costello said Pennington will be on-site at both conventions, building the house “shoulder-to-shoulder” with delegates. While only delegates that register on Facebook can help to build the home, anybody can come to the site to watch, cheer, and sign a banner, he added.

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