NEW YORK Home Depot is sponsoring a reality series to give American backyards a facelift while driving traffic to its stores. Called Backyard Nation, the show will air on TLC .
Each episode transforms a no-frills backyard into a lifestyle statement. For example, one installment shows how a family changes an unremarkable patch to an "Alice in Wonderland wish fulfillment," replete with a "massive concrete toad stool," said Thom Beers, CEO and executive producer of Original Productions, which TLC commissioned to create four one-hour programs.
Another sculpts a lawn into "My Big Fat Greek Backyard," a theme reinforced by dangling grapevines, a hot tub and an Olympian barbecue that Beers described as "pushing the limits of over-the-top."
Said Beers: "The backyard is the new American living room."
In a mix of barter and cash transactions that Beers fondly dubbed "stone soup," architectural landscape firms donated labor and Home Depot supplied building materials—ranging from concrete to two-by-fours—that home owners used in their renovations.
Home Depot also treated each of the participating families to shopping binges. Store credit mostly went toward home adornments like light fixtures and patio furniture.
Footage of the Home Depot trips is sprinkled among the episodes. For example, viewers may see the homeowners and backyard designers selecting store products, accompanied by host Josh Temple.
While the mega-chain is Backyard Nation's title sponsor, several mom and pop shops contributed as well, including Cal Spas and Southland Sod.
Home Depot spent more than $450 million on domestic advertising in 2005 and boosted that number by an estimated $30 million in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
As with Monster Garage, Monster House and other credits, Original Productions sought to match the brand sponsor of Discovery Network's newest home renovation series with a reality concept apt to grab viewers without swamping them with irrelevant products, explained Beers.
"Nothing forced" sums up his philosophy of brand integrations.