Better Homes Plans Online Sweepstakes for Best House

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An online sweepstakes is the key to winning America's ideal home as executed by a multichannel alliance of Meredith Corp.'s Better Homes and Gardens magazine, home improvement chain The Home Depot Inc. and cable's Discovery Home Channel.


Called Better Home Better Living: Win America's Home, the effort aims to create a house reflecting the best of what Americans say they want in a home.


"This is the first time that Better Homes and Gardens is actually giving a home away," said Dan Lagani, the magazine's vice president and publisher. "We have previously worked with a cable channel and with retailers. This is the first time we're doing anything on this scale."


The 2005 contest is an extension of the relationship Better Homes and Gardens struck with Home Depot in 2004. It also strengthens ties with Discovery, with whom Better Homes and Gardens has produced books.


Participants enter the contest through a special location on the Better Homes and Gardens' site at www.bhg.com/win or via forms at Home Depot's 1,700 stores nationwide.


Starting Jan. 10, a finalist will be selected at random monthly, each winning a key that might open the front door to the home. Consumers can enter every month, including the finalist. All finalists get sponsors' products and a $500 Home Depot gift card. The finalists gather Oct. 18, with the grand-prize winner being chosen when one of the keys opens the door.


The combined media power of the three brands is designed to drive traffic to BHG.com to enter the sweepstakes and to retain consumer interest.


"The Internet plays an important role because of its immediacy in allowing consumers to enter to win," Lagani said. "It parallels the way we see the consumers' behavior change. We know they're increasingly turning to the Internet as a companion to Better Homes and Gardens, especially when it comes to seeking deeper information or entering contests or sweepstakes."


Nearly 70 percent of consumers who entered the 2002 Better Home Better Living contest did so via the Internet, he said. For the 2004 contest it was 90 percent. The previous contests did not involve a home giveaway.


The partnership among a magazine, retailer and cable channel owes much to feedback from nearly 60,000 consumers who responded to the 2004 contest. This is Better Homes and Gardens' biannual home improvement contest and survey.


Based on five trends isolated from the responses, the magazine's editors and a panel of home design gurus will design and build the home. The site is in Cumming, GA, a suburb of Atlanta.


The promotion will yield an insider's view of the construction of the home and the creation process through a multi-issue magazine series supported by online, retail and television elements. Dell Inc., Round Rock, TX, is the program's exclusive technology sponsor.


Advertisers, including Home Depot as well as other marketers, will be integrated into the construction and furnishing of the house. They will benefit from magazine, store, on-site and online promotion.


"We've recently added more product-specific editorial pages such as 'Home Front' and 'In Good Taste,' " Lagani said. "This project is a natural extension of that idea."


Starting with the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens, a six-part editorial series will introduce the trends that inspired the home's design and construction. Articles also will cover solutions and expertise useful to homeowners. Sponsor-driven pages on the contest rules will support. The series continues in the May, June, September, October and November issues. The promotional pages run every month through the contest.


At BHG.com, consumers can keep track of the house's construction. They can gain access to exclusive content along with entering the sweepstakes. The site attracts 5 million unique visitors monthly.


Home Depot will run Better Home Better Living-branded how-to clinics in its stores nationwide to coincide with the timing and topics of the editorial features. The first clinic, "You Can Have Fun With Color and Faux," will be held Sundays in February.


Discovery Home Channel will follow the home's construction with a 10-part series filmed on location. The program tentatively is called "Building America's Home." The channel has sole editorial discretion to film what it wants without guaranteeing product placement for advertisers.


This deal is another example of advertisers and partners riding the coattails of a magazine's brand. Better Homes and Gardens offers allies access to a circulation rate base of 7.6 million and a claimed readership of 38.2 million.


The deal helps Home Depot reach out to readers who might need tools or material. The company last year reported sales of $64.8 billion and is the nation's No. 2 retailer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Similar benefits extend to Discovery Home Channel. It is part of Discovery Networks Inc., operator of brands such as Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids Channel, Discovery Times Channel and Discovery Health Channel.


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