‘Design Star’ Draws Verizon

Verizon, MasterCard and State Farm are joining incumbent sponsors Sears and SC Johnson for the fourth season of HGTV’s hit competition series Design Star.

A smartly crafted synthesis of HGTV’s core design sensibility and the sort of reality TV elements that can bring in channel surfers, Design Star has become the network’s signature property since it premiered in July 2006. As the series continues to draw an audience—the season three premiere drew a record 4.3 million viewers last June—advertisers from nearly every major category have looked for ways to align their brands with the show.

“This year we saw a lot of advertisers who were not necessarily endemics who wanted the rub-off of the Design Star proposition,” said Donna Stephens, svp-ad sales for HGTV, who added that the show has brought in twice the number of clients than in previous seasons.

Sears, Lumber Liquidators and SC Johnson are all onboard for the latest incarnation of Design Star, as all three clients have signed on for integrated packages. For example, hardwood flooring from Lumber Liquidators is used as a design element in the refurbishing of the Hollywood Hills mansion in which the fourth season was taped back in March. Incoming advertisers include Verizon, State Farm and MasterCard, all of which represent category firsts for the series. Applebee’s and Snapple have also joined the client roster.

Given the horrific state of the housing market, HGTV may have found itself in a tight spot this year, and yet the ad dollars keep rolling in. “Advertisers are looking for efficiencies and places where they can be assured that they’ll reach their targets,” Stephens said. “We’re definitely not the first place for our endemics to cut.”

HGTV pulled in an estimated $600 million in ad sales dollars in 2008. The network drew 1.14 million viewers in the second quarter, good for 12th place among ad-supported cable nets.

Nielsen Business Media