As HGTV fans know, twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott are second to none when it comes to fixing and selling homes. But the Property Brothers duo—Jonathan is the contractor; Drew is the real-estate agent—is even more skilled at building their own brand.
Since their first show, Property Brothers, debuted in 2011, the Scotts have nurtured its success into a full-blown franchise and expanded their brand with Scott Brothers Entertainment (which produces content for TV, film and digital platforms) and the Scott Living Collection line of indoor and outdoor furniture and décor.
They also selectively partner with other brands like security company ADT. Earlier this month, the brothers starred in the security brand’s first Super Bowl ad, kicking off a broader partnership. (“Your home should make your life easier. We love working with somebody who shares our vision of home,” Jonathan told Adweek of ADT.)
Now the brothers are expanding their empire again, with Property Brothers: Forever Home, which will premiere Wednesday, May 29 on HGTV. The series’ focus won’t be on flipping homes for profit, but rather, overhauling the house to suit the family’s needs and turning it into a “forever home.”
Property Brothers: Forever Home will be Drew and Jonathan’s fifth ongoing HGTV series, alongside Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, Brother vs. Brother and Property Brothers: At Home.
Drew and Jonathan talked with Adweek about Forever Home, building their brand, the offers they’ve turned down and how they’re about to “relax” their hectic schedule.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Adweek: When Property Brothers began, HGTV had actively moved away from shows centered around personalities. Was it tough to get the network on board with the concept?
Jonathan: It was. We created the show with the production company Cineflix, and it was pitched [to HGTV] in the U.S. But because they were so driven toward format and not towards talent, it was a really hard push. So we started airing first in Canada, then we started airing in Australia. And then we told them, “We became the No. 1 show in Canada after only three months on the air. Let’s edit the show down [to a half hour]. We’ll test it and if you like it, we can always go to the full hour version after that.” They agreed, and it worked. [HGTV switched to the hour-long version just two months later.] After a few months we became the No. 1 one show on the network, and now, we’re in over 160 countries. So the network doesn’t always know what the audience is going to be receptive to.
At what point did you realize there was more to the brand than just the one show?
Jonathan: Drew and I have always been very analytical at looking at the business opportunities. We’re entrepreneurs through and through. We started to realize that for a lot of actors, their brands fizzle out after 10 years. Not a lot go beyond that. If any of these folks are creating a legacy brand, it’s coming more from the people who are personalities, as opposed to people who are celebrities. So we really found a comparison there, where we were moving in a direction to become personalities. We’re not pretending to be somebody else. We’re being ourselves, we’re doing what we do and people have trust that they put in that, that we won’t compromise on our ideals. And it really paid off. We would never have had the opportunities for our product lines. And you look at Scott Living, our furniture and décor line—we just hit a half billion dollars in retail sales last year. That is never something that we would have been able to do if we were just actors on a TV show.
Drew: After Property Brothers, it was that business brain of ours that turned on. We approached the production company, Cineflix, and said, “We have the No. 1 show on HGTV in the U.S. and in Canada”—at the time it was on W Network—”why don’t we try rounding it out?” At the time, we were doing about six months in a city. I said, “While we’re there, we have some downtime we could fill. Why don’t we try shooting another show that could complement Property Brothers?” Where Property Brothers is helping people get into their dream homes or a fixer upper, what about all those people trying to sell their current homes that aren’t going to get the value, or they can’t sell it? That’s why we started the next show, Buying and Selling. Then, all our fans on social media were asking what we would do to our own house. Why don’t we do a show where we’re showcasing a reno on our own house? That was Property Brothers at Home. And Jonathan and I have always been competitive, and our fans loved that brotherly sibling rivalry. So we said, “Why don’t we tape a show, Brother vs. Brother, where we’re competing?”
What was the genesis of Property Brothers: Forever Home?
Drew: Jonathan and I always do a lot of face-to-face with fans, whether it’s the Scott Brothers cruise, our book tour or appearances at Home Shows. What a lot of people say is with all of our shows they love that we’re helping people, but we’re helping people when they’re buying and selling. What about all those other people that already own their homes, that want to keep their home and just wish it was their dream home, their forever home? That was the basis for why we created Forever Home. We want everybody, whether you’ve owned your house for six days or 60 years, to have the chance to turn that into the home you always dreamed of.
Jonathan: We’re taking the best of the shows that Drew and I do and putting it all into this one. So on Buying and Selling, people love more of the analytical view of the value and the cost of individual things put into a home. On Property Brothers, everyone loves the before-and-afters. We want to take some of the fun from Brother vs. Brother as well and weave that in. So you’re going to see it’s a different format, but it’s the best mix of all of our shows put into one.
What have been your parameters as you’ve pushed your brand beyond the TV shows, into Scott Living and your other partnerships?
Jonathan: Drew and I were very focused on the fact that we want to look at our entire brand from a realistic standpoint of how can we impact real people and real families’ lives. There are a lot of people who will put out products that are shiny, and they look interesting, but it’s not actually solving a problem for real families. And that’s really not going to work for us. On the product side, we actually listen to people and put products out that are going to work. My dad is an old cowboy, and we were raised by the cowboy code that you give your word and you stick to it. Everything we do stays authentic to our brand. If it isn’t authentic to our brand, we don’t do it.
Jonathan, you’ve talked about being approached several times for the U.S. and Canadian versions of The Bachelor, which would definitely seem to be off-brand for you. Any other examples of offers that weren’t the right fit?
Jonathan: There is nothing that would be my bigger nightmare than doing something like The Bachelor. That is not my jam. I’m a very private person and that would be absolutely awful. And some of the random things that have popped up that are just of no interest. We’ve had liquor companies that have wanted to do a Brothers liquor line and things like that. It seems like a bit of a stretch.
Drew: If people can see something that feels forced as to why we would be representing a certain brand or product, we have no desire to do it. It has to feel like a natural fit. In all our shows, it’s about getting more for less, getting that dream home on a budget that actually works for you and doesn’t strap you month-to-month. So those are the kinds of things that we always tie into.
Your production company is in the process of taking over the production duties on all of your shows. When will that be complete?
Jonathan: The end of April. We’ve been in the transition of that happening for about a year and a half. It’s actually going to give us some efficiencies we’ve been desperately seeking, so we will have more time freed up now moving forward. And then we can take on passion projects—or take on nothing at all. Cineflix has really been fantastic, and it was a strategic move on our side. For Drew and I, when you think about what takes up most of our time, it’s filming. And we’ve got Casaza, our design platform and marketplace that we launched. We’ve got our children’s IP with the two books that we’ve now written and another one in the series, as well as more coming. There’s a lot of stuff that we need to be able to allocate a certain amount of time to grow our business. So this will be great. It’s a much-needed relaxation of our schedule.