Paint makers go online for youth

Paint manufacturers Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore are looking to reach younger consumers to spread the word about home decorating, and they are doing so on the Web.

Benjamin Moore has debuted a new line of paints called Ben, in a move to reach a younger audience. To introduce the new line to market, the paint brand worked with digital agency AKQA to create a new interactive Web site to help consumers choose colors.

Created by the AKQA New York office, is a site where visitors can select colors by mood, can play color games and are asked to “Express your vision of color.”

“The strategy focused on the color benefits of the brand,” said Mehera O’Brien, creative director at AKQA, via e-mail to DMNews.  “We specifically wanted to showcase some of the fun, vibrant colors in the palette, which we thought would appeal to the target.”

This new Ben line was developed to target a 20-30 something audience, who may be first-time homeowners. This is an expansion from Benjamin Moore’s flagship audience, a slightly older, more affluent homeowner, who often works with interior decorators, and where the color decisions are primarily made by women. The younger couples targeted by the Ben line tend to make the decisions together and are often doing the painting without a decorator.

“They are digitally savvy,” said O’Brien. “They do research online to learn how to tackle home décor projects and to get inspired. They are engaged by social media and have a willingness to share their lives with others like them.”

The idea for the interactive site came out of AKQA’s brainstorming sessions in which the team had a discussion “about some of the funny color names, which colors we might prefer in our homes and why, and how colors are associated to moods and ideas that are unique to us as individuals.”

This led to the idea of a word association game, where users could see a word and their own color interpretation.

“To explain their selection, we wanted users to be able to provide a personal story, which we limited to 140 characters as a nod to Twitter,” added O’Brien.

While it’s not the first digitally interactive effort from Benjamin Moore, “it is the first of its kind for us where it allows users to enter their own thoughts and ideas around color,” said Maureen Germinder, the company’s senior manager for digital media services.

“Color means something different to all of us. We feel that everyone interprets color differently and the Color Story area of the site celebrates these various interpretations,” she said.

In addition to the color stories, the site contains product information and links to order color samples and find a retailer.

Sherwin-Williams is working with Cleveland, OH-based interactive agency Zig Marketing, its digital agency of record, to create new digital sites for its consumer brands, Dutch Boy, Pratt and Lambert, and Krylon. The idea is to bring these various paint brands to a larger audience and to reach people through digital channels.

“Sherwin-Williams has been looking at the digital space and wondering if they should get into for some time, so we came up with some digital sites to help show them how it would work,” said Howard Zoss, president of Zig Marketing. “They wanted to take the big step into the water of digital because that’s where they think things are going.”

For the Dutch Boy brand, Zig created a Web page called The site is the destination for a viral campaign sweepstakes, where consumers can write in about the dirtiest room in their house for the chance to win free paint to refreshen it. Entrants can post photos of their site and send it to friends to vote on it. People who vote also are entered into a monthly contest to win free paint and opt-in to receive marketing messages.

Dutch Boy had a new Arm & Hammer paint that literally takes odor out of the air, so it is great for kitchens and bathrooms,” said Mike Smith, creative partner at Zig. “They wanted to take advantage of this great product offering and reach as many people as they could to tell them about it.”

To promote the contest, Zig put the creative up on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs. “The whole impetus is to use the whole viral ability of the Internet to drive people back to the site,” added Smith.

To promote the Krylon brand, an exterior spray paint in a can that has wood staining properties, Zig also created a sweepstakes online. The idea was to promote the fact that the product is easier to use that actually using wood stain, which would in turn save consumers time. The tag line for the campaign was “Save our Saturdays,” and it called users to spend Saturday doing something fun, rather than working on staining.

Consumers are invited to opt-in to receive monthly e-mails with branded sports trivia question and to sign up for a sweepstakes to win prizes. The prizes include tickets to The World Series and big screen TVs.

For the Pratt and Lambert line of high end paint, Sherwin-Williams wanted to get the message out to architects who often recommend the paint to clients. So they created a green design social network where architects could find stories from architecture magazines and share their own work. The site, at, aims to be an architectural information center, rather than a product site.

“Architects don’t buy the paint, they just suggest people use it,” said Smith.  “So it is a branding site, with links to the Pratt and Lambert site.”

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