By Gary Evans LAS VEGAS — The World Market Center is planning to launch a $20 million, multi-year national advertising campaign in September to stimulate consumer interest in home furnishings. Although the WMC will go it alone on the funding, it will have the support of the National Home Furnishings Assn. and the Western Home Furnishings Assn. and has reached out to other industry groups, including the American Home Furnishings Alliance. Collaboration with the NHFA and WHFA is expected to drive retailer participation among the associations' 10,000-plus member stores, WMC officials said. In addition, the campaign has received the endorsement of other industry groups, including the Sustainable Furnishings Council, WithIt and the Home Furnishings Independents Assn. The campaign will have the tag line, "Is It Home Yet?" September will be billed as "National Home Furnishings Month" ending in a highly promoted 10-day national sales event. The $20 million in funding will likely be spread over five years. The World Market Center said its owners, not WMC tenants, are providing the money for the campaign and consider it an investment. If successful, this will be the first time an industry-wide consumer awareness campaign has gotten to the funding stage. Similar campaigns have been proposed in years past but have made little headway because financing never materialized. Ogilvy North America has been awarded the creative contract for the campaign. The agency says it is positioning home furnishings as a needed and desired enhancement to the family's home and lifestyle, not a luxury. The first phase will be supported by advertising, branding, education, promotions, sales events, policy efforts, public events, social media outreach and consumer research, officials said. September was chosen because it is when consumers are focusing attention on their home, family and holiday planning, and because it leads to the critical fourth quarter retail sales period. "Is It Home Yet? is a consumer-oriented marketing strategy designed to reach people at multiple touch points that will ultimately benefit the entire home furnishings industry," said Bob Maricich, WMC president and CEO. "This is a rare opportunity to bring together the entire industry for the benefit of raising awareness and positively changing the way people view purchasing home furnishings," he added. "Through this campaign, we will offer our partners the tools and resources they need to reach consumers through in-depth industry analysis and creative content that will reinforce transforming a house to a home. This initiative aims to unify the marketing efforts of home furnishings retailers and brands in order to deliver a powerful and emotional ROI to consumers." The campaign is targeted to the household's core furnishings decision maker - the "every woman" who turns to the Internet as her number one source of information about the home, according to Market Research Insight data. The advertising plan, which will consist of print, outdoor and digital components, will take a two-pronged approach - a national media plan will reach consumers who are looking for content about refurnishing their homes, and retailers will be provided a "tool kit" to help them activate the campaign in their local markets. The core of the national media campaign is a digital program that will be anchored by owning and designing the "Room Design" section of MSN's Lifestyle Web site, which will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 30. A robust display and search program will run on MSN and several display advertising networks, and through the Google AdWords platform. National print ads will run in Elle Décor and Metropolitan Home. Billboards will be used in several key markets. The brand is expected to be further leveraged by retailers in their existing advertising spend for September, multiplying the frequency and reach of the message. Ogilvy North America represents Fortune 100 clients and was the developer of "The Fabric of Our Lives" campaign for America's cotton producers and importers and the "Real Beauty" campaign for Dove. Having analyzed the home furnishings industry, Ogilvy concluded there is a void and an opportunity to use a collective voice to increase the industry's brand share and access a greater percentage of consumers' disposable income, the WMC said. "For years, families have thought about investing in their homes to make them more saleable," said Doug Scott, president of Ogilvy Entertainment. "The goal of this campaign is to remind people that home furnishings help shape the way we live, and that making an investment in what's in your home is also a long-term investment in your family. We want to help make the old adage ‘Home is where the heart is' a palpable reality." Scott said the positioning of the campaign is designed to engage the audience in thinking about furnishings and decorating their home as a continual process - not a single event - and believes the phrase "Is It Home Yet?" is both timely and timeless. "We are extremely proud to be a part in this initiative in cooperation with World Market Center, which brings together retailers and manufacturers and presents an incredible opportunity for consumers to connect with home furnishings information, education and product to make ‘her' home more comfortable, inspirational, beautiful and warm," said Steve DeHaan, the NHFA's executive vice president. "Through this campaign, manufacturers and retailers will have an opportunity to work toward the same common goal, with a unified message that reinforces the incredible value for consumers." Participating retailers will have access to a kit with marketing tools, including print advertising templates and other components they can adapt to promote themselves during National Home Furnishings Month and beyond. An "Is It Home Yet?" promotion during the last 10 days of September will be aimed at driving traffic and building sales in stores. By visiting the MSN Room Design microsite, consumers will be able to find participating retailers near them. In celebration of National Home Furnishings Month, WMC officials said, a sweepstakes will be conducted throughout September with five winners a week awarded room makeovers valued at $5,000. Consumers will be able to visit the campaign's Web site, www.homeyet.com, beginning Aug.24 for more information including the sweepstakes rules.
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