Branding frenzy builds around Trading Spaces

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Discovery Networks' "Trading Spaces" is trading on its popularity to become a home-decorating megabrand encompassing books, DVDs, housewares, hardware and even music and board games.

The cable program attracts 2.8 million viewers per show, according to Nielsen Media Research, and Discovery sees further revenue in licensed products. "We're continuing to have our phones ring off the hook for this property. There's a tremendous opportunity for home decor, domestics and fan-based merchandise," said Sharon Markowitz Bennett, senior VP-strategic partnerships at Discovery, which has so far lined up 20 deals. "I see [the 20] doubling in the next year."

The recently launched "Trading Spaces: Behind the Scenes" book already has shipped 725,000 copies and climbed The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. On sale only since March, it has been a top seller at Wal-Mart Stores, Home Depot and Target. "We see this as a very viable and evergreen property," said Todd Davis, executive director-new business ventures at Meredith Publishing, which published the initial title and plans seven more this year and next. "No other decorating title I know of can sell more than 700,000 units."

Three coming for fall include two more decorating-focused than the fanzine-style first effort, plus "Paige by Paige," a journal of the show's third season by perky host Paige Davis. Discovery also has internally discussed launching a "Trading Spaces" magazine, said Ms. Bennett. "There aren't any definitive plans," she said. "But it's a terrific idea."

This fall, "Trading Spaces" enters the housewares and hardware aisles. Offerings include frames, mirrors, decorative ledges, memo boards and clocks from Fetco Home Decor, slipcovers from Ellery Homestyles and bedding, bath, fabric, rug and window treatments from Springs Industries. Town & Country Living will chip in with "Trading Spaces" table linens, kitchen towels, pillows and throws.

It doesn't stop with soft goods. Emess Design Group is launching an indoor and outdoor lighting line under the "Trading Spaces" name, while the Wallies Division of McCall Pattern Co. rolls out wallpaper cutouts, borders and murals based on the show. Canadian company B-Bel is even selling "Trading Spaces" doll houses for redecorating, while a yet-unnamed partner will launch a line of "Trading Spaces" paints in the spring.

Though home-improvement chain Lowe's is the primary sponsor of "Trading Spaces," a variety of retailers will carry the merchandise, Ms. Bennett said. She expects to announce a lead retail partner for the home-decor line within the next few weeks, but even in that case, products ultimately will be distributed broadly rather than as a controlled label, a la Target's Michael Graves brand.

board game

Further afield, Hasbro plans a fall launch of a "Trading Spaces" board game, while Compass Productions plans show-branded music CDs to redecorate by. Artisan Family Entertainment has rolled out three redecorating videos and DVDs under the brand that have shipped more than 100,000 units, Ms. Bennett said.

Discovery will advertise the merchandise during the show, as it has with the book, but plans to go easy on content integration. "We really want to maintain the integrity of what the show is about, which is really taking items from the individuals' homes and converting those items." Ms. Bennett said. "We probably won't plant anything."

Product spinoffs are coming faster than programming ones-which is saying something, given the addition of two programs.

A "Trading Spaces" version aimed at tweens and teens made its debut May 17 on the Discovery Kids block of programming as part of the Saturday morning lineup for General Electric Co.'s NBC. "Trading Spaces" also launches a family format in TLC's Sunday 7 p.m. slot, premiering July 6, with contestant teams of up to four family members.

The redecorating budget for the kids' show is $5,000, up from $1,000 for the original. That opens up possibilities for more use of high-ticket consumer electronics-and more potential attraction for such advertisers, Ms. Bennett said.

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