Department 56 (D56) is a leading designer and manufacturer of high-quality holiday village collectibles and home decorative products.  In 2000, D56 turned to its public relations agency of record, Carmichael Lynch Spong (CLS) to increase its brand awareness and attract new buyers into the franchise.
As part of the company’s marketing communications plan, CLS identified product placement¾specifically decorating the sets of talk shows¾as a powerful vehicle for providing national exposure for D56 products during the key fourth-quarter holiday shopping period.
CLS secured an official agreement with the Rosie O’Donnell Show, one of the nation’s leading talk shows.
D56 research showed that a majority of consumers first started collecting villages after they had seen them displayed as decoration.
CLS and D56 identified and prioritized a list of national talk shows and morning news programs that spoke to D56’s target audience.
Target Audience
  • Consumers with an interest in seasonal and holiday decorating and gift-giving; ages 35-64, mostly female, HHI $50K+; some college
  • Target Media
  • Select national television talk show producers and set designers
  • Increase awareness of D56 products among target audience
  • Obtain third-party endorsements from celebrity talk-show hosts
  • Demonstrate that D56 products are unique and how they can be used for holiday decoration
  • Decorate the sets of targeted national talk shows
  • Leverage “set decorator” relationship to obtain editorial coverage and product endorsement from show hosts
  • Offer D56 products as “giveaways” to audience members
  • Many set decorators were unfamiliar with D56 and unsure of how the products, specifically villages, were used for decoration
  • Due to limited budgets, CLS was unable to work with a traditional product placement organization
Placement Identification
CLS identified a select list of key television shows that would reach the target audience.  The programs had to have an appropriate format for holiday decorating.  The list included: Today, Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and Late Night with Jay Leno.
Pitching and Negotiating
CLS sent letters, decorating brochures and sample product to key set designers and producers.  The brochure provided a visual idea of how the D56 products are used as decoration.  After pitching the producers, CLS struck a deal with the Rosie O’Donnell Show.
CLS arranged for set stylists to visit the D56 product showroom in Manhattan to preview and order the available products.
Editorial Coverage
CLS provided the producers with key messages about D56 and its products in hopes of obtaining editorial coverage on the show.  
Objective: Increase awareness of D56 villages and holiday decorating products.
D56 became the official holiday set decorator of the Rosie O’Donnell Show in 2000.
D56 products decorated the set of the show for three weeks during the peak of the holiday season, reaching a total audience or more than 22 million
D56 was recognized during the closing credits as the set decorator
More than 300 D56 villages were distributed to Rosie’s studio audience
Objective:  Demonstrate that D56 products are unique and show how they can be used to decorate during the holidays.
In addition to the Christmas holiday, D56 products decorated the show’s set for a special Halloween segment.
Close-ups of D56 products were featured during several transitional “bumps”
One of the holiday shows featuring D56 product decorations was submitted for an Emmy Award
D56 will continue as the official holiday set decorator for the Rosie O’Donnell Show in 2001
Objective:   Obtain third-party endorsements of celebrity talk-show hosts for D56 products.
D56’s special edition piece “Cindy Lou Who’s House” was featured on Rosie’s desk during a segment with Jim Carrey – star of the hit movie “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”
Rosie thanked D56 on-air for providing the studio audience with product and making a donation to the For All Kids Foundation.
The set producers sent a thank you letter to D56 for decorating the set and indicated that the decorations were very well received by guests and audience members alike.