I'm not ashamed to admit  that I watch a lot of HGTV. That may be a surprise coming from the guy who made this but I find the show fascinating. It started with watching Property Virgins when Megan and I were starting to first entertain the idea of owning a home. Now that we do own a house, other shows are fascinating to me like Curb Appeal, Property Brothers and Love It or List It. All of the homeowner stress and idea creating makes more sense to me now.

Even when the wife is out and I'm at home with full reign of the remote, I still turn it to HGTV from time to time, depending on what's on. Now you know that. Moving on...

I was watching a show with Megan tonight and it totally dawned on me - HGTV is an extremely efficient marketing machine. I was seeing a brief ad featuring a star of one of the shows giving a few DIY tips using some very specific name brand products when things finally clicked for me. All throughout each of the shows, there is normally very intentional product placement. I didn't realize how often it happened until I started making a point to track every time a brand or product was mentioned.

I shared my "discovery" with Megan and she made the same observation. However, unlike a lot of product placement in other things, she said that those don't feel invasive. She doesn't mind them at all. Or if you're like me, you really don't even notice them. Why does it feel more organic to HGTV?

It's content that benefits the viewer

Many of the ads or product placement opportunities on their shows are benefitting the viewer. Where did those designers find that cheap furniture? What kind of stone did that landscaper use to achieve that look? When we watch these shows, most of us have a DIY mindset on, even if it is mostly aspirational and less practical. We want to know what products the "pros" are using so we know what to shop for when trying things ourselves. These things add value and context to the shows without interrupting. Because I'm in this mindset watching the shows, even the Home Depot commercials make me want to go out and stain my deck and then celebrate with a beer/grilling afterward. Usually, only one of those two things actually happen. I'll let you guess which one.

What can we learn?

Marketing gets a lot of flack for interrupting. Consumers would rather not see our ads. How do we get them to want to see them? We could take a few notes from HGTV.

  • Make the content relevant to what the viewer is doing. In HGTV's case, the viewer is watching TV looking for ideas. If you're a brand, you could show how your products help facilitate some of the inspirational projects that happen on the show.
  • Provide useful information. Lowe's #FixInSix does this on Vine/Tumblr. Many products or advertorials do this on HGTV. A brand is the one showing you how to accomplish this task or fix this problem, usually using their product to facilitate that fix. If you can show how your product can make people's lives easier and help solve a common problem they may face, you're off to a good start with your marketing.

You always want to show people what they want to see, not force something on them in the name of impressions.

I don't know why it took a year of HGTV for me to view it through a professional lens, but now I have. When having this conversation with my wife, she said "that sounds like a good post for your blog." I thought she was right. So here we are.

What are other places you find that brands feel more organic and useful?

Speaking of product placement, I believe Wayne's World set the bar high several years ago: