PR Team: Home Depot (Atlanta) and Richards/Gravelle (Dallas) Campaign: The Home Depot Time Frame: February - August 2003 Budget: Under $220,000The Home Depot sells more than 100 million gallons of paint each year, making it the leading paint retailer in the country. But the home-improvement market is an increasingly competitive one, and The Home Depot has been redoing various departments in its stores to position itself as something more than a home-supply warehouse. One of the first departments to get remade was its paints area. "We're looking to inspire people to do more with paint, particularly with colors," says David Sandor, PR director for the Atlanta-based retailer. The Home Depot redesigned the paint centers in its 1,500 stores, calling them Home Depot's Color Solutions Centers. The new centers stock one-third more paint colors than carried previously, and include the ability to preview colors in virtual rooms using in-store kiosks. Strategy The Home Depot decided to work with Richards/Gravelle, the PR arm of its ad agency of record, The Richards Group, to tell consumers and key media about the Color Solutions Centers. "From a product standpoint, they needed to showcase what is a huge investment for them," says Stacie Barnett, an account director with Richards/Gravelle. "Color Solutions was about more than a new paint department." The Home Depot was interested in reaching female consumers - a major market for the chain - and in reconnecting with home and women's magazines. "They had let their relationships with the most influential magazines in the category lapse," Barnett relates. Says Sandor, "We wanted to make people aware of this new destination within The Home Depot." Tactics Richards/Gravelle decided to position the new Color Solutions Center as the answer to people's decorating needs. It crafted message points around that concept, which also was embodied in advertising that carried the tagline, "You have the inspiration. Now we have the solution." A media event was organized in New York on April 1. Journalists, designers, and celebrities were invited to a midtown loft to create color palettes inspired by some keepsakes they had brought with them from their homes or offices. Local student artists were brought to the event to create paintings inspired by the guests' color selections. Each of the four paint lines carried by Home Depot - Behr, Ralph Lauren, Glidden, and Behr's Disney Color line - had their own space at the event. Roughly 95 people attended. The New York event was followed by a three-week national tour by Jason Feldman, The Home Depot's director of style, innovation, and design. Cities on the three-week tour were Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Des Moines, IA was also visited so time could be spent with editors from Meredith, a major publisher of such magazines as Better Homes & Gardens and Midwest Living. National and local media were sent 500 press kits, and a VNR was distributed in 50 key markets. Phone follow-up was subsequently done to discuss story possibilities. In New York, the student art creations were sent to attendees after the event, providing another opportunity to touch base with key media who attended, Barnett says. Results The Home Depot received coverage for its new paint centers in such major publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. More than 100 hits were achieved in print and broadcast. Sales of tinted paints increased, with some stores reporting a doubling in sales after the campaign. "We saw a significant increase in coverage in print and broadcast," says Sandor. "The campaign did a lot to advance people's feeling that The Home Depot was a destination for sophisticated colors and paints." Future The Home Depot plans to continue publicizing new and expanded services such as its growing at-home services area, says Sandor. It's created new kitchen, bath, and appliance showrooms in many stores, again stressing to consumers that it offers more than home-improvement commodity products. The company has also relaunched its website.