New Georgia-Pacific Ads Take Drywall To The Masses

While consumer advertising is no stranger to the home-improvement category, most of the products tend to be housing fixtures: faucets, windows, siding and the like. But thanks to increased awareness of all things “DIY,” paper and building-products manufacturer Georgia-Pacific has begun its first consumer-targeted effort touting materials such as sheetrock and plywood.

Since late spring, the Atlanta company has been advertising its building products to consumers in seven test markets, including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. The company, which has already increased its building-products advertising budget 35 percent to nearly $5.5 million this year, will test the results of the campaign in October. But based on early results, company officials are expecting another budget increase next year. (The company spent $4 million advertising its building products last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.)

“We’ve already decided it’s a major success,” said Chris Beyer, director of marketing for GP’s building products division. “We are seeing a dramatic increase in interest for the products.”

Traditionally, structural products like drywall and plywood have been marketed to builders and contractors through trade campaigns. While the company is continuing that aspect, GP executives are convinced they can create enough demand among new-home buyers that they will ask builders to use GP products. The strategy is similar to the one pharmaceutical companies have used to get patients to request medications from their doctors.

To that end, GP and independent agency Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy in Charlotte, N.C., have created campaigns that directly address consumer concerns. For GP’s drywall product, Dens-Armor Plus, the campaign—aimed at women, whom research shows are more concerned with air quality than men—plays up the product’s ability to resist mold thanks to its fiberglass filler, rather than paper sheets. In the 30-second television spot for DensArmor, the camera moves through a lived-in house that has stickers on the walls reading, “Stop feeding mold,” while a voiceover describes the advantages of GP’s paperless drywall. A radio spot imitates a home-improvement talk show, during which the host recommends DensArmor to all of his callers.

In addition to the broadcast ads, the campaign includes a Web site, www.stopfeedingmold.com, and print executions in home-improvement magazines such as Fine Homebuilding and This Old House.

The male-targeted campaign for GP’s plywood product, Plytanium, talks about structural integrity.

“We are reinventing a category,” said John Ketchum, CEO of the agency. “This is a solution to a greater problem [of mold].”

But followers of the industry are less convinced the strategy will work. So far, no other companies that produce drywall have attempted to advertise to consumers, and don’t seem to have any plans to do so, said Bob Wessel, assistant executive director of the Gypsum Association, a Washington group that represents drywall manufacturers.

“I’ve never seen a campaign directed at consumers for a gypsum [drywall] product,” Wessel said. “Most of our members dismiss the idea.”

Tim Smith, a marketing professor and director of the Forest Products Management Development Institute at the University of Minnesota, said it’s hard to interest consumers in products that typically get covered in paint or flooring. But, he added, GP’s specific product attribute—mold prevention—and increased awareness of building products from TV shows like ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition could set GP apart.