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Advertising: Stanley Furniture's New Commercials

Furniture World Magazine


As advertising budgets appear to become smaller and smaller each year, we search around for ways to stretch the dollar. Usually that stretching consists of condensing some portion of our existing advertising such as broadcast and/or print, try to make the most out of what we have and hope that it will be enough to attract the prospective audience into our store(s). There just never appears to be enough money around to do the kinds of things that we want to do in advertising. And each year, as media costs increase, we are torn between reducing our advertising, which will surely diminish our return, or match the increased media costs and hope that the increases in sales will allow for an increase in margin.

Now there appears to be help on the way. Stanley Furniture, Stanleytown, VA, during this past April Market in High Point introduced the "Stanley Television System", a product which allows any of their qualified home furnishings dealers to purchase, for a nominal fee, network quality television commercials and/or raw footage scenes for local dealer use in their specific trading areas to create television commercials. All of the footage was shot on 35mm motion picture stock and it allows the dealer to have their own commercials customized for a very nominal price. All of the footage was filmed with and without talent, thus allowing for product, which the dealer has on their floor, to be placed in the commercials with or without shopping scenes or at home scenes with people in them, or totally without people in the scenes in accordance with the individual dealer's preference.

All of the product available for this first-of-a-kind features Stanley's youth furniture category "Young America". And with the debut of the program, a new company slogan makes its appearance. "Dreams Begin At Home...Home Begins With Stanley" will be appearing on all advertising material for the company from this point forward. Born under the tutelage of Robin Campbell, VP, Advertising for Stanley, "Dreams" consists of five (5) different television commercials, all pegged on an emotional tug. Filmed with children from the Stanleytown area and professional actors, the commercials hone in on the dreams of youth as seen through the eyes of adults...parents of children. One features young boys, viewing baseball cards and thinking of the times that surely will lay ahead, as they reach the majors. Another features a young boy playing a trumpet and dreaming of his soloing at the Newport Jazz Festival. Yet another shows a group of young girls, playing mystery games, envisioning their entry into a successful detective agency they will open in the future. Yet another shows a young girl, writing intently, with her dream of writing her inaugural address in the year 2040.

"Dreams" is the first of its kind. Not only does it go against the tradition of the moment... hawking "No No" and "Sale of the Week"... it goes completely the other way. It plays on the heart strings of parents in the audience, integrating an idea of home furnishings into the emotional complex of hopes and dreams they have for their children and grandchildren. The emotional sell of these new commercials sets them apart, and because they are based on the furniture purchasing audience, they offer dealers a way to attract this audience into their stores.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that emotion sells better than the false promiseof pitching "No No" and "Savings of...". Audiences appear to be tuning out these messages. They no longer believe that there is a "free" lunch. They no longer believe that there is "No Payments and No Interest". They no longer believe that you can actually save up to 70% on that dining room set. We have "numbed them into silence" with this constant assault of the absurd. We are no longer selling furniture. We are in fact simply the medium between them and another financial institution's offer.

Along with these network quality television commercials which retailers can order today and run this weekend, they can set the stage for a real sale after the table has been set. The fifth commercial in the Stanley arsenal is the "Sale of Dreams", an honest to goodness sale that provides legitimate summer savings for their dealers to participate in.

Now Stanley surely is not the first company to offer television commercials for their dealers. Drexel Heritage pioneered this concept in 1982 when Lance Benefield created the Drexel Heritage Partners Program. Thomasville has provided footage to their dealers for a number of years. But this is the first time when complete commercials are being offered to dealers that sell the dealer... and not just the manufacturer.

Your customers are watching television... and television that appeals to emotion, sells. The auto companies have known this for years. This strategy works, and it can for home furnishings too. What a novel idea!

Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at lhanish@furninfo.com.