Cook-Dahl, a full-service remodeler in Brockport, N.Y., hasn't increased its $2,500 marketing budget in years. But those dollars have a reach as big as Rochester itself during the weekend broadcasts of This Old House, which the company helps to underwrite. Thanks to repeated exposure before local viewers of the venerable public broadcasting program, “our name is almost synonymous with remodeling around here,” says Cook-Dahl president George Dahl.
The relationship took root in the early 1990s when Cook-Dahl, founded in 1968, made plans to advertise on a “This Old House” copycat program that never took off. Those plans had involved hiring a former Disney artist to design and animate the company's logo, so it seemed logical to showcase the logo on This Old House instead.
Underwriting fees vary widely from one PBS station to another, but Cook-Dahl pays $1,500 per year (leaving $1,000 for other marketing expenses) to underwrite the program on WXXI-TV, the Rochester PBS station.
For its money, the company gets 15 seconds of visual and verbal exposure on both the Saturday and Sunday morning airings of the show during the 13-week “winter-spring” quarter, when many people start thinking about home improvement.
Does the underwriting spot lead directly to remodeling jobs for Cook-Dahl? Definitely, says Dahl, though “it's not like people are banging down the door on Monday mornings. It's more word of mouth and subtle exposure. We keep busy all the time.”
Launched in 1981, This Old House airs on 326 public television stations per week, reaching 98% of all U.S. television households. The show is syndicated through HGTV and the DIY Network. To learn about underwriting, contact your local PBS station.