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GAF, a 128-year-old roofing-shingle company, was looking for new ways to reach its target audience of roofing contractors and distributors, as well as raise brand awareness among homeowners. It found that in a partnership with "Orange County Choppers" which is now in its second year.
"Our approach in reaching different audiences has changed, both in who we are marketing to and the ways that we are getting them engaged," said Alyssa Hall, director-marketing communications at GAF, based in Wayne, N.J.
While GAF sells through distributors to contractors, homeowners are the ultimate end users. "What remains a challenge is that homeowners mainly care about who is entering their home, liking and trusting their contractor -- more than the brand of shingles on their roof," Ms. Hall said.
About two years ago, GAF decided to create new kinds of marketing programs to reach business and consumer audiences. Previously, GAF had done most of its advertising to contractors through building trade magazines and events.
"Once we decided to get more creative than the typical trade-magazine ad, we started brainstorming about ways to reach contractors that also reach consumers as well," Ms. Hall said. "Looking at the contractor demographic [males 25-to-64], one show that met that demo was 'American Chopper.'"
In the fall of 2012, GAF negotiated a partnership with the Discovery Channel program that included building a custom bike on a show scheduled for early 2013, as well as other licensing and co-marketing opportunities.
Then, in December 2012, Discovery cancelled "American Chopper" after a 10-year run.
"We all scrambled and moved [filming] up by two months, and put together a big event at their shop in Orange County, N.Y., with Paul [Teutul] Sr.," Ms. Hall said, referring to the founder of Orange County Choppers bike shop, which was featured in "American Choppers."
"We invited contractors to be present for the big, televised bike reveal, and tried to utilize the segment -- not just airing on the show, but we really wove it into all marketing efforts for the year."
For example, GAF created a landing page featuring a video of the custom-bike reveal, and it also launched a sweepstakes giving away five bikes to contractors.
In early 2013, Country Music Television (CMT) gave Paul Sr. a new home for the show, renamed "Orange County Choppers."
GAF continued its partnership with the program last year, building another OCC custom bike which it gave away to a veteran at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a huge event in Sturgis, S.D., that draws over 400,000 bikers a year. The bike give-away was tied into GAF's "Roof for Troops" program, which gives roofing rebates to American veterans. A segment on "Roofs for Troops" was featured on an "Orange County Choppers" episode.
GAF also created a sweepstakes called "Text for a Bike," in which a roofing contractor could win a GAF-branded custom bike from Orange County Choppers.
"We kept it alive the whole year and brought Paul Sr. to other contractor events," Ms. Hall said.
The biker promotion has been so popular that GAF is doing it again this year, with a sweepstakes for contractors called "Enter for an Experience," giving away a ride-along with Paul Sr.
GAF is partnering with other TV shows as well, including "Ellen" and "Duck Dynasty" to raise brand awareness among contractors and homeowners.
"Content marketing is the buzzword of the day -- how can we get more assets to share with our different audiences and make sure every outreach is specific to that audience," Ms. Hall said.
"If we are working on a TV integration, I want to make sure the talent on the show tweets before the show airs, the tweets are linked to our segment, and the segment is living on our site. How do we price a tweet? We are figuring this out together."