Walmart forges deep tie-in with HGTV show about home projects under quarantine

Dive Brief:

  • Walmart signed a deal with Discovery that will see the big box retailer’s products and ads integrated closely with a new program on the HGTV network, Variety reported.
  • The eight-episode “Design At Your Door” series, which debuted Thursday, tracks people as they makeover rooms in their homes during quarantine, while receiving remote help from professionals like David Bromstad, Tiffany Brooks and Tamara Day. The show is self shot by participants due to the coronavirus pandemic, per Variety.
  • Offerings from Walmart’s line of home goods will be used for the home improvement projects shown on the program, with highlights shared on Discovery’s social media channels. HGTV.com will additionally host shoppable articles featuring the products, while Walmart will spotlight the goods on its website, according to Variety.

Dive Insight:

As the novel coronavirus continues to upend the TV ad space, Discovery’s pact with Walmart shows how networks are thinking fast on their feet to forge more innovative sponsorships suitable for a volatile moment. HGTV has previously worked with the big box brand, but the latest deal came together far faster than the typical lead time on such partnerships, Greg Regis, EVP of ad sales and partnerships at Discovery, told Variety.

Publishers like Discovery are eager to drive revenue amid an upfronts season that has many advertisers reporting they’ll spend up to 33% less than they typically do, while others are pushing for more significant changes to the media market. For Walmart, “Design At Your Door” presents an opportunity to tie-in closely with a show that focuses on the types of do-it-yourself (DIY) home projects more consumers are interested in as they look to occupy their time at home and gussy up the spaces they’ll be working from for the foreseeable future.

Elements of the partnership, such as the shoppable articles on HGTV.com, key into channels where Walmart’s business is growing despite the unprecedented disruptions to in-store shopping. As noted in Variety, the retailer experienced a 74% spike in e-commerce sales in Q1, as consumers sheltering in place looked to get more goods delivered directly to their door.

In other ways, the HGTV deal reflects larger changes that were happening in TV advertising prior to the pandemic. As networks cut down on commercial airtime, more brands have sought deeper product placement and sponsored content within programming, since those formats can read as less intrusive than a traditional 30-second spot. The coronavirus could be accelerating that shift, as major network owners like NBCUniveral are cutting back on the number of commercials they run in response to the pandemic, while viewership of ad-free streaming services surges.

Though marketers have broadly pulled back on ad spending with the lack of live sports and freeze on new productions, other retailers have worked on similar integrations to Walmart’s. Lowe’s, which has proved sturdier than rivals like Home Depot through the pandemic, last month teamed up with ABC to help “American Idol” contestants trick out their home stages for the season’s remote finale. As part of the episode, participants showed off the ways in which their DIY setups lined up with their personal style.

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