Drexel Heritage Courts Younger Demo on 'Runway'

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Miramax's Project Runway, a reality show about the search for a new cutting-edge fashion designer, has signed a product integration and marketing deal with Drexel
Drexel Heritage's new print and TV ads showcase the sets it created for 'Project Runway.'

Heritage, a furniture company best known for its traditional old-world stylings.

Yet, the two aren't odd bedfellows, said executives from Drexel, a 100-year-old furniture company that's always been more Connecticut country club but wants to let out its inner downtown bohemian.

Supermodel Heidi Klum

The one-hour show, hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum, will put a group of Tommy Hilfiger wannabes in a downtown New York loft to live and work together.

Drexel will furnish the loft where the show's contestants will live and their workspace at the Parsons School of Design. The series, on NBC Universal-owned Bravo, launches Dec. 1.

"Anything they're sitting on, lounging around, sleeping in, it's ours," said Stephen Carlson, a marketing and public relations executive at Drexel. "We're integrated throughout their space."

Bought about 2 1/2 years ago by Furniture Brands International, home of Broyhill and Thomasville, Drexel is trying to get younger and hipper. Its previous target was the affluent 45-plus demographic. Executives said they are trying to shift that down to a mid-to-late 20s and 30s consumer.

New Drexel TV ads

Drexel's executives have shot TV and print ads using the reality show's sets. The TV ads, among the first for the brand in many years, will air around Project Runway this winter. A separate branding campaign, with 60-second spots, will launch later this year and spill into 2005. Advertising is done in-house, with help from Hirsch Productions, Los Angeles.

A print campaign will hit shelter and women's service publications like Elle Decor, O at Home and In Style Home next month. The company will promote Project Runway in its 50 retailers and 200 galleries.

Lori Sale, executive vice president for worldwide promotions at Miramax, said Drexel's real estate is extremely valuable to a nascent TV show.

"It extends our message and stretches our presence into places that would not be included in our regular marketing budget," Ms. Sale said. "Their ads and promotions will get us in front of consumers who are interested in design, which is perfect."

Outside traditional ad pods

The deal is one of a growing number of alliances between marketers and
Drexel Heritage's new print and TV ads showcase the sets it created for 'Project Runway.'

TV shows, with brands aiming for more meaningful consumer contact outside traditional ad pods and productions looking for added marketing muscle.

"We're all trying to do product integration, and we like to think of categories that are right for a program," said Hannah Gryncwajg, Bravo's senior vice president of advertising sales. "We're not just trying to fit in a one-off advertiser who wants to be integrated."

Drexel's no stranger to product placement, having decorated movie sets for years, but the company is just beginning to exploit placement outside of entertainment content, and first put its toe in the water with an in-store effort tied to this past summer's Disney movie Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

After choosing to furnish Anne Hathaway's suite in the movie, instead of Julie Andrews', the company launched movie-themed print and TV ads and held "princess for a day" events in its stores. The promotions brought in moms, grandmoms and girls for tea and etiquette lessons, mirroring the movie. The Disney relationship led to the Miramax deal for Project Runway.

Drexel has placed products in shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, getting some additional screen time via its delivery trucks and retail stores. The company has promoted the show on its Web site. Project Runway appealed to executives because of a new product line, dubbed dh, aimed at younger buyers.

Pairing with fashion-forward show

"We're known for high quality and traditional looks, and it's huge for us to pair with a fashion-forward show that has a modern edge," said Monica Edwards, Drexel's vice president of marketing. "It will help us connect with a new audience."

Other marketers already signed on for Project Runway include Cotton Inc., Banana Republic and L'Oreal. The winner of the reality show will get mentoring to start their own business from Banana Republic, which will launch its first-ever TV advertising around the series. The chain also will hype the show in its 400 stores.

Cotton Inc. is also a sponsor of Project Runway, brought on by its media agency, WPP Group's MindShare. The deal dovetails with a new $5 million fashion-forward ad campaign the marketing association for cotton hopes will help it reach women 18 to 34. "This kind of show is something we believe that group, who loves fashion and loves to shop, would be interested in," a Cotton spokeswoman said.
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