Rust-Oleum gives consumers the tools to do it themselves

Last year, Rust-Oleum launched "Transformations," a line of first-to-market refinishing products for kitchen cabinets and countertops that lets consumers change the look of their kitchens for less than $500.

Company: Rust-Oleum (Vernon Hills, IL)
Campaign: Rust-Oleum Countertop and Cabinet Transformations Launch
Duration: January-October 2011
Budget: $150,000

Last year, Rust-Oleum launched "Transformations," a line of first-to-market refinishing products for kitchen cabinets and countertops that lets consumers change the look of their kitchens for less than $500.

To introduce the products and drive sales, the in-house team devised and executed a campaign to engage key influencers and consumers.

"Consumer research found that these are 'seeing-is-believing' products," explains Kurt Hardy, SVP of marketing, research, and development. "Consumers wanted to hear from [peers] who had used them."

An event in New Orleans (the birthplace of Rust-Oleum) that gave 10 influential do-it-yourself and home bloggers hands-on experience was key to raising awareness.

Media relations, a website (, consumer events and contests, and social media outreach also drove awareness.

In January, the website launched and editorial roundtables were held in five cities. The site is robust, including how-to guides, virtual makeover tools, and customer testimonial galleries.

Ongoing media outreach included home improvement, decorating, and do-it-yourself broadcast and print outlets.

The blogger event, held at French Quarter landmark Latrobe's on Royal, kicked off February 8 with a reception and dinner. Bloggers worked with the products the following day in 10 stations set up with cabinets and countertops. They tweeted and posted commentary, videos, and photos to their sites during and after the event.

Five bloggers stayed to help work on a Habitat for Humanity house on February 10 (part of a Rust-Oleum CSR initiative).

An "America's Next Top Kitchen" contest was hosted on the website May 27 to September 30. It was promoted by the bloggers and on Rust-Oleum's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Contestants submitted before- and-after kitchen photos (the use of Transformations products wasn't required) for the opportunity to win prizes, including a $5,000 gift card to any retailer of their choice. Hardy notes the "vast majority" used Transformations products.

Products were showcased at outdoor consumer events sponsored by Country Living and Southern Living magazines in Ohio, Georgia, and South Carolina in September and October.

A Facebook contest to win a Cabinet Transformations kit that ran in September and October was also promoted at the outdoor events.

Hardy says sales expectations were exceeded and production was subsequently increased.

Integrated communications director Lisa Bialecki says about 25% of sales can be directly attributed to the campaign.

The website got nearly 2 million unique visitors and 9.7 million-plus page views (February 2011 through January 2012). The contest drew 304 entries.

Combined, the 10 blogs delivered 60-plus posts, 3,000 comments, 88,600 views of video from the New Orleans event, and 227 million word- of-mouth impressions.

More than 1,800 stories ran in outlets such as Popular Mechanics and Good Housekeeping.

Consumer attendees at the outdoor events topped 55,000.

From February 1 to October 29, Facebook page views increased 64% compared to the same months in 2010.

Similar campaigns will support upcoming extensions to the Transformations line. The team is also preparing for June's inaugural "Haven" do-it-yourself blogger conference, for which Rust-Oleum is a sponsor.

PRWeek's View
Genuine commitment to helping audiences understand and use the products and be inspired was key to this well-executed effort. It was smart to give bloggers the opportunity to not only work with the products, but also to ask questions, get feedback, and participate with the CSR effort. Rust-Oleum's ongoing commitment to do-it-yourself bloggers is also noteworthy, while generating consumer content through the website contest was shrewd. Building on foundations laid here should continue to benefit both the company and consumers.

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