From Stink-Free Rooms to IPhone Apps, Paint Marketers Pour on New Promos, Pitches

Glidden, Dutch Boy, Benjamin Moore Battle Projected 9% Sales Drop

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NEW YORK ( -- With new-home construction languishing, paint sales are projected to slide 9% this year, leading brands such as Glidden, Benjamin Moore and Dutch Boy to pick up the slack with new marketing and new products designed to encourage consumers to spruce up their homes.

Decision Metrics analyst Lynda Gordon said the category usually fluctuates 2% to 3% a year, so her projection of a 9% falloff represents a serious drop. She dissects the paint market into three general buckets: maintenance, the recession-proof upkeep painting that accounts for 50% of sales; the 10% to 15% of new construction and new-home sales that have taken a major hit with the housing slump; and the remaining market of what she calls "event-driven" purchases for consumers redecorating or moving.

In February, Glidden tapped DDB, New York, to relaunch its brand in Home Depot, a shift from brands such as Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams, which are sold in independent retailers. The marketing positions Glidden as the paint brand for everyone and includes a simplified package redesign from Omnicom sibling Interbrand. It also reduced its number of paint colors and placed paint-chip inserts in magazines such as Details, InStyle, and House Beautiful.

Benjamin Moore, meanwhile, is playing on emotion rather than functionality in its marketing. "In the last year or so, the category is moving toward color," said Tony Graetzer, senior VP-group account director at Cramer-Krasselt. "It's less about paint, more about color."

With AKQA, the company built a website,, that lets users assign colors to words, such as love, creepy and dessert, to underscore the emotive quality of color. It also internally developed an iPhone app, Ben Color Capture, in which consumers can snap a photo of anything in the world, select a color from the photo, and match it to more than 3,300 hues. The app can direct the user to the nearest Benjamin Moore retailer thanks to the phone's GPS. A spokeswoman reports the app has garnered 20,000 uses per month. Sherwin Williams also has an iPhone app.

On the product-innovation front, Sherwin-Williams sub-brand Dutch Boy has a new twist altogether: Refresh interior paint, which claims to eliminate household odors. Doner, Southfield, Mich.,* handles the marketing, including demonstration-based TV and print. Refresh is also hosting a contest, created by Zig Marketing, Cleveland, for the "stinkiest room in America," in which consumers win 5,000 gallons of Refresh paint and $5,000.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this said McKinney handles marketing for Dutch Boy. McKinney is the agency for Sherwin-Williams stores
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