Consumers spend a great deal of time and money personalizing the interior of their homes, but what about the exterior? Leading building products manufacturer Owens Corning conducted research that proved consumers want unique homes, but are often hesitant when it comes to selecting products and colors. Owens Corning turned to Golin/Harris to help the company establish its leadership position as the industry expert in exterior design and introduce its “Exterior Design Collections” product line.

Golin/Harris created the “Great Exterior Makeover” to capture American homeowners’ interest in home remodeling and educate them on the wide range of products and options available.  The plan was to remodel five homes in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio with each home featuring one of the five Exterior Design Collections – at no cost to the homeowners.   

The range and scope of this event – finding homeowners to participate, renovating the homes and developing a creative launch makes this project worthy of an award.  


The two largest obstacles with this event were working through the inevitable delays with the remodeling process and meeting the deadlines.  In addition, logistical complications working with five homes in three different suburbs of Cleveland proved to be difficult.  

However, the ability to educate consumers about Owens Corning’s extensive product offerings and capitalize on the housing boom, thus increasing business for Owens Corning, provided a major opportunity.  


Golin/Harris conducted extensive research over several years on trends in home improvement and remodeling.  Three studies, all part of Owens Corning’s “House/Works: A Study of the American Homeowner” series, explored needs, issues, challenges and driving factors in remodeling and home improvement among national homeowner groups.   The findings include:

  • Exterior appearance is one of the primary factors in the value and sale of the house
  • Homeowners lack awareness of the exterior options available to them
  • Consumers often know what they don’t like, but have a hard time pinpointing what they do like
  • Contractors often suggest neutral colors rather than be responsible for a homeowner’s possible dissatisfaction
  • A review of third-party research conducted with consumers, installers, contractors, builders, architects and distributors in five major U.S. markets confirmed these findings.


The planning process took place over a 2 1/2 year period.  In 1997, Golin/Harris approached Owens Corning with an idea to create a “Street of Dreams” – remodeling several homes on one street using Owens Corning roofing and exterior products. Owens Corning was receptive to the idea, but wanted to wait until it further expanded its line of exterior and accessory products.

By 1999 the product line was set and Golin/Harris launched the “Great Exterior Makeover” to help drive awareness for the company’s new Exterior Design Collections. The Design Collections grouped Owens Corning’s exterior products (including roofing, vinyl siding, accessories, and manufactured stone) into thematic categories. The five themes – Americana, Lodge, Tidewater, Monticello and Garden – each have 13 different color palettes to help homeowners find the looks to match their personalities.  

Once Owens Corning selected Cleveland, Golin/Harris went to work touring the city to identify homes with “good bones” as candidates for the makeover.  Then, Golin/Harris signed up the homeowners and developed the timeline, media strategy, unveiling event and strategic partners.   


Create awareness of exterior design and Owens Corning’s Exterior Design Collections among homeowners, contractors and builders

Position Owens Corning as a leader in exterior design

Develop awareness of exterior design and the Exterior Design Collections with national building trade publications and women/shelter publications

Generate $1,000,000 worth of advertising value through media placements with these publications

Reach target audiences – consumer and trade media, homeowners, remodeling contractors and builders through the campaign


The goal was to create a unique event – the Great Exterior Makeover – to demonstrate that designing the exterior of the home is much like designing the interior or accessorizing a wardrobe.  By involving top experts in the design field, such as Miriam Tate, exterior colorist, and Devereaux & Associates architects, credibility was brought to the project. To reinforce Owens Corning’s position as an exterior design expert, Waverly was enlisted as the exterior fabrics partner.  In addition, Golin/Harris focused on leveraging the media coverage to sell the concept and product line through to retail customers, contractors, distributors and architects.


Golin/Harris participated in the selection of the five-makeover homes and then interviewed the owners of each house in order to develop backgrounders. The first step was to coordinate the actual remodeling work on the homes along with architect, contractors, city officials and design partners. The second phase primarily was launching the product line through an aggressive media relations campaign.  

Media Relations

  • Designed a creative invitation to position Owens Corning as an “exterior design” company, not just a building materials company
  • Developed media materials incorporating design elements from the invitation
  • Negotiated feature coverage with top consumer magazines by offering each home as an exclusive story to a different publication
  • Developed a video news release and radio news release following the event to extend coverage
  • Followed event with media visits in New York and Iowa to share results of project and showcase home renovations

Unveiling Event

  • Created home-by-home before tour for key media before remodeling began and followed with high-energy unveiling of finished homes
  • Brought the different design collections to life by creating personalities for each home and designing costumes that reflected each collection and incorporated the actual building materials used
  • Unveiled the homes and costumes with a runway fashion show that extended to a home-by-home tour
  • Invited Owens Corning and design industry spokespeople to participate in the event
  • Provided private air transportation for New York editors to the Cleveland event


The “Great Exterior Makeover” was an overwhelming success with all key audiences.  More than 45 media attended the event in Cleveland and many more participated in the follow-up desk side briefings.  The Exterior Design Collection is now available at hundreds of retail home improvement centers and through contractors and distributors nationwide.  Media results included major features in Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Country Home, Traditional Home and Renovation Style; stories on CNN, CBS “The Early Show”, NBC “Today Show”, “On the House” radio, Homefront radio, and “The Money Pit” radio show; as well as local newspaper stories throughout the United States. In 2000, Golin/Harris focused on merchandising the campaign results from to the media.  Through desk side briefings and delivering follow-up information to the national media with longer lead times, we have successfully generated 74,203,211 total media impressions and $1,200,362 in total advertising value.  In addition to the media coverage, the program greatly increased hits to the Owens Corning interactive ExteriorFX Web site and Owens Corning Preferred Contractors expanded their businesses to incorporate exterior design services.