Benjamin Moore Paints, founded in 1883 in Brooklyn, NY, and a Berkshire Hathaway company since 2000, is renowned for its high performance paints, extraordinary colors, and unrelenting role in preserving, protecting and beautifying building interiors and exteriors throughout North America. Consistently, it’s the brand of choice for professional contractors and interior designers. Benjamin Moore paint is unrivaled in quality, and it uniquely engenders a fierce and passionate loyalty among those who specify and paint with it.
Color Care Across America
The concept for Color Care Across America (CCAA)—to provide uplifting color paint makeovers for emergency shelters, 1 in each state plus in DC-was predicated upon the following objectives.
- To bring attention to the homeless crisis in America while helping to improve the living environments for those who seek the basic human need of having a roof over their heads.
- To demonstrate the importance of forging partnerships between private enterprise/corporate America and public service in finding solutions for the kinds of issues that government can no longer afford to cope with alone.
- To underscore that even the simplest acts, such as a new coat of paint, can help improve the conditions of the temporary housing that communities offer their citizens and raise the self-esteem, dignity and confidence of those needing to seek this aid.
- To underscore the emotional, healing and empowering impact of color.
- To champion the role of professional painting contractors and underscore the value of this trade’s trained skills and artistry.
The United States Conference of Mayors, which was a chief partner with Benjamin Moore in the CCAA campaign, reported in its 2010 Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America (December, 2010) that there had been a rise in the homeless condition-both among families and among individuals. Among households with children, unemployment led the list of causes for homelessness, followed by lack of affordable housing, poverty low-paying jobs and domestic violence. Lack of affordable housing led the list of causes of homelessness among individuals, followed by lack of needed services for those troubled by mental illness, substance abuse and poverty. 71% of the survey cities were compelled to adopt policies and/or implement programs aimed at preventing homelessness among households threatened with the loss of their homes to foreclosure. Officials in 48% of the survey cities expect resources to provide emergency shelter to decrease over the next year.
Benjamin Moore’s strategy included aligning with two partners. First, It teamed with the U.S. Conference of Mayors as a means to help identify which shelters should be painted. Mayors’ offices nationwide nominated emergency shelter candidates; then USCM helped to screen and determine the legitimacy of the need for a color paint makeover and confirmed the facility was an integral resource for the community. A USCM committee made final selections of one shelter per state plus in DC. This strategy also yielded an association with each mayor as the painting was undertaken in a city: the mayor would appear at the shelter to help with the painting, creating a natural photo and editorial opportunity that became a platform for local publicity.
Benjamin Moore’s other partner on the project was the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America-the leading organization for professional painters. PDCA helped to recruit the volunteer paint teams in many of the cities. In most cases, local chapters and their members rallied to pitch in. But, where PDCA did not have associates, Benjamin Moore looked to its local retailers to recommend contractors it serviced.
House Beautiful magazine editors were enlisted to work with Benjamin Moore’s own color expert develop 7 possible color palettes that would give each shelter plenty of choices without overwhelming them-offering them options for walls, ceiling, trims and doors and guidance for coordinating use of two or more hues. The palettes were pre-determined, as well, to ensure there were choices for creating an upbeat or calming environment, as needed, respecting local and regional tastes. Benjamin Moore agreed it would contribute enough paint to complete up to 10,000 sq. ft. of an interior, focusing on communal and other living spaces other than baths and kitchens. All told, approximately 3000 gallons were contributed.
A unique collaboration on the PR was also part of the strategy. The lead agency on the project was Veeder+Perman+Caniato (VP+C), Benjamin Moore’s agency of record for consumer PR for the past 8 years. Burson-Marsteller, which represents Benjamin Moore on issues-oriented PR, was the matchmaker who put the company together with the Conference of Mayors, another of its clients. The agencies divvied up responsibilities for handling the local publicity efforts: VP+C handling 40 cities and Burson, 9. In Chicago, VP+C sub-contracted to colleagues at Jo Chicago, and for Anchorage, it coordinated with San Francisco-based Landis Communications Inc. to handle the publicity. Each of these four agencies deployed staff to the CCAA location for the 2-day painting makeover; and those staff were charged with not only arranging for local publicity but also with photographing and videotaping (with a flip camera) the painting, the mayor’s appearance, interviews with the shelter directors, retailers and others involved to chronicle the city-by-city progress for a custom-built Facebook app.
Color Care Across America began the chromatic transformations on Wednesday, September 21-beginning in Trenton, NJ (Benjamin Moore’s home state) and Laredo, TX. With an average of 4-to-5 painted each week since, as of November 18th, 47 shelters will have been completed. Local press outreach was typically begun in each market about 2 weeks in advance, with intensive follow-up conducted a day or two prior. PR associates were aggressive and unrelenting in securing coverage and didn’t leave it to email messages-upon arrival in some cities, they visited the newspapers or TV stations, taking cookies or baked goods along with the Press Release and their “pitch.”
From Portland, OR to Portland, ME, and from Honolulu to Anchorage, Color Care reached a range of shelters-some serving homeless men or women only; some women and families seeking aid from domestic violence; some offering drug rehabilitation. We even painted one that provided independent living for adults with developmental disabilities; one was sanctuary from child trafficking, and another transitional housing for families who’ve fled war-torn countries.
The campaign’s success can be measured in both quantitative and qualitative terms. By mid- November, Color Care makeovers had been featured in 115 local television segments in 29 states. The total television impressions totaled nearly 2.5 million. (see attachment for detailed coverage reports.) Total print coverage included a combined newspaper circulation of 765,636, while online impressions totaled more than 6 million.
Color Care Across America also served to strengthen Benjamin Moore’s ties with its customers – the local independent retailers – who mixed and delivered impressive quantities of paint and were delighted to be mentioned repeatedly in press coverage by mayors and shelter directors. In turn, retailers had the opportunity not only to bond with their customers, the local paint contractors who donated their time, but to forge new relationships with PDCA-recommended painters who might not have patronized their store, or ever used Benjamin Moore paint. Painters also had the opportunity to test Benjamin Moore’s high-performance, eco-friendly paints, products they might not have considered or had the opportunity to specify for projects. In nearly every market, the paint received rave reviews from painters for its nearly imperceptible odor, fast dry time, and incredible coverage. A number of painters vowed to recommend or specify products they had used for Color Care moving forward.