Homebase signs DIY stars for ads

Homebase, the J Sainsbury do-it-yourself chain, is to sign up TV celebrity DIY experts to exploit the growing media interest in home improvement.

The explosion of TV programmes and specialist magazines dealing with home decorating and design has created a number of “DIY celebs”.

Kevin McCloud, who will launch a spin-off of the BBC’s Home Front in March focusing on gardens, and designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who appears on the BBC’s Changing Rooms and Change That shows, are in talks with Homebase.

The chain is launching its first major marketing initiative since rebranding 230 Texas stores, which it bought from Ladbroke in 1995. The marketing department will be expanded with the appointment of a national advertising manager, market research manager and national promotions manager.

Kate Swann, marketing director for the 300-strong chain, has developed a marketing programme focusing on colours for different seasons.

She says: “Colour is very often the starting point for anyone considering home improvement.”

Abbott Mead Vickers.BDDO will launch a major television campaign, using the spring-time colours theme, which will go on air in the run-up to Easter – a crucial time in the DIY market.

Colour themes will also be marketed through in-store “branding counters”, where staff will be trained to give advice, and through its in-store magazine, Homebase Living.

Swann has called in 20/20 Design Consultants and Crabtree Hall to work on design for shop formats and corporate identity.

She says Homebase will increase its marketing and ad spend – it spent about 17m in 1997 (ACNielsen).

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