The Verdict: Rona builds on its TV presence

With the second season of My Rona Home on the way, Rona EVP Claude Bernier tells MiC why the brand is such a good fit for an integrated show.

Rona announced the contestants for the second season of My Rona Home this week, building on the home improvement hardware chain’s TV integration strategy.

The first season verified what the company had believed going into production, that the brand is a perfect fit for an integrated show, Claude Bernier, executive VP, marketing and customer innovations, Rona, tells MiC.

‘When you feel that not only are you doing a show, but you are also helping people to change their lives…you feel you’re doing something special, and I think the customer recognizes that as well,’ he says.

The approach was brought into the English market from Ma Maison Rona, which started eight years ago in French Canada.

The company also sponsored two shows this fall, and integrated products throughout, with Grin and Build It on the W Network and Laisse faire, j’vais l’faire on Canal Vie.

The first season of My Rona Home attracted an average of 200,000 to 250,000, with 300,000 viewers tuning in for the final show (BBM, 2+).

Bernier expects the numbers will increase in the second season, as the numbers increased in Quebec after the first season there.

‘What we know is, it takes three or four years to build the momentum and build the awareness of a show,’ he says. ‘When we started last year with Citytv, we knew it would be not a short-term venture but a long-term one.’

Ratings aren’t, of course, the most important part of the show: sales are. Bernier says it’s hard to measure the impact the show is having at the cash register, but the anecdotal evidence supports the case. In the early episodes of the first season, stores would be calling head office wondering why so many people had been in asking for certain products or advice. Head office now knows to supply stores with product lists before episodes air.

It’s that kind of direct translation from the screen to the store that Bernier and the company really like, and the trick, Bernier says, it to not try to sell anything.

‘The show needs to be entertaining,’ he says. ‘We don’t want to sell, we just want to show people beautiful things and show people how to do things. We’re not pushing people to buy this or buy that. Seriously, I believe this is more powerful than traditional advertising.

The show has a more limited reach than advertising on a hit during prime time would, but it’s a different, deeper message, and it complements that traditional ad buys the company still uses, Bernier adds.

The season premiere of My Rona Home airs on Citytv in spring 2011.