Nailing DIY with Wickes


Key Points

  • Wickes wanted to change perceptions, drive consideration and increase sales at key periods
  • They embarked on a 2 year TV sponsorship, alongside branded content and spot advertising, including bespoke ad break takeovers
  • Sales records were beaten and there were significant improvements in various brand health metrics

The Challenge

As a challenger brand, Wickes was traditionally perceived as a destination for tradesmen. They understood that, if they were to grow the business, they needed to remain an important retail destination for their heartland, the Trade; as well as growing their relevancy to the DIY consumer as well, striking the right balance of media to reach both audiences.

Wickes embarked on a long-term plan beginning with the need to establish its credentials as a place that anyone, irrespective of their level of experience, could go for great products and services to complete home improvement projects of any size and to galvanise the nation to get a project started. They wanted to communicate at scale and maximise their investment by reaching an audience who is most likely to be engaged with the DIY category. However, they also wanted to pay special attention to younger DIYers, as research had shown that despite high awareness amongst this key audience of 16-34 year olds - essentially the next generation of homeowners - consideration of the Wickes brand was low.

So, the first challenge was to change perceptions of the Wickes brand, but, as with all retailers, sales could not be overlooked. Wickes needed to supercharge them in the key DIY sales periods and so this was also a key objective.

The Solution

With the need to raise awareness and change perceptions, Carat identified TV sponsorship as a perfect vehicle. Wickes understood the benefits of partnerships to leverage brand equity, but having never sponsored a TV show before, it was key to find the perfect programming to drive brand preference.

With its rich heritage in creating and broadcasting great “homes” programming such as Grand Designs and Location, Location, Location and with a wealth of top talent in Kirstie Allsopp, Phil Spencer, Kevin McCloud and George Clarke, Channel 4 was a perfect match. The timing was perfect too as Channel 4’s ‘Homes on 4’ strand of programmes was on the market for the first time in three years.

In ‘Homes on 4’, not only did Wickes find accessible and inspiring subject matter that was very obviously relevant, but more than that, the shows are about real people taking on projects of their own whilst being guided, advised and sometimes merely observed by the expert hosts.

On top of this, in Channel 4 itself, Wickes found an alignment of values insofar as both are challenger brands and innovators, trying to inspire the nation. Wickes understood the power of associating with content and a brand that had already established the attributes that they were striving for.

So, they bravely committed to the biggest partnership that Channel 4 had to offer - for two years.

Everyone involved in the project was committed to creating a stand-out partnership and so squeezing out every last bit of equity was critical.

The Plan

The insight for the idents and branded content was simple - to highlight that whoever has a home has a home improvement dream. To make the sponsorship appeal to a broad set of people, idents covered a range of rooms within different homes (big and small), with a mix of interactions between friends and family, and featured a wide range of products and services.

Across the first year of the partnership in 2017, a range of elements were included:

  • Over 2,600 hours of content sponsored across Channel 4, More 4 and 4 Seven, plus all VOD programming on All 4, with the Wickes logo on promotional trails
  • Co-creation of an original content series, My Epic Room Makeover, consisting of four 8-minute long episodes, with additional activation via a Channel 4 competition
  • Employees engagement through ticket giveaways to Channel 4 shows and events
  • Activation of the ‘Homes on 4’ licence through customer communications across e-CRM, direct mail, catalogues and in-store radio.

Whilst the sponsorship and branded content were doing a great job, communicating key products and delivering steady ratings, Wickes also needed to stimulate short-term spikes in awareness during the key sales periods of Easter and bank holiday weekends.

Wickes understand that the Great British public feels compelled to spend bank holidays doing DIY, even though they would rather be off having fun. As a result, of the 85% of home improvers that start DIY tasks during a bank holiday weekend, 50% do not complete them! This insight led to the creative proposition ‘buy now do it later’.

They decided to disrupt the category in Easter 2017 by telling customers to have a break from DIY entirely and to get out there and enjoy their well-deserved long weekend. To facilitate this, they created the first ever Wickes “buy-it-now-do-it-later” sale with 15% off.

To drive cut-through and reach, Wickes took over an entire ad break on Good Friday in Channel 4’s top Easter weekend show, Gogglebox. Featuring Channel 4 talent, Dom Joly, twelve bespoke spots were created and, in the takeover, each Wickes ad contextually linked to the ad before. For example, after a Lidl wine ad, Dom reminded people they should be wining and dining a dashing date instead of doing DIY.

To maintain impact throughout the weekend, similar takeovers (although non-contextual) appeared across the Channel 4 portfolio and this was supported by interactive VOD ads that featured location-based store proximity information to drive engagement.


  • The sponsorship idents alone have reached 83% of the adult population
  • Of those exposed to the sponsorship:
    • 61% of viewers had an improved opinion of Wickes
    • 71% of viewers of C4 Homes would consider Wickes for home improvement purchases
    • 89% of viewers were inspired to start a new project and more likely to consider using Wickes
    • 63% of the younger DIY audience have an improved perception of Wickes due to the partnership
    • 75% of viewers were aware of Wickes painting and decorating products, compared with 66% of non-viewers
    • 50% uplift in engagement for interactive VOD formats
  • My Epic Room Makeover was seen 4.6m times:
    • 26% of 16-34 year olds were inspired to start a project after watching
    • 79% said that it improved their opinion of Wickes
  • Easter fortnight was £1m more profitable compared to the prior year
  • Online sales smashed through the £1m barrier for the first time on Good Friday, and then immediately broke that record with £2.3m on Easter Monday

This is a major step forward for Wickes. We couldn’t have anticipated the extent of multi-platform reach that a partnership rooted in TV sponsorship could achieve for us and so successfully. We’re amazed and delighted that with Carat and Story Lab’s support and guidance we’ve easily reached what we set out to do in changing perceptions of the brand and have gone well beyond that.

Shelley Allison Head of Core Communications, Wickes


Sector: Retail & Home Improvements

Brand: Wickes

Campaign objectives: Change perceptions about Wickes, drive consideration, increase sales

Target Audience: Primary: All adults with an interest on Homes/DIY. Secondary:  16-34 year olds

Budget: Undisclosed

Campaign Dates: Throughout 2017 (year one of a two year deal)

TV Usage: Sponsorship, branded content, spot advertising (including bespoke ad break takeovers) and interactive VOD spots

Creative Agency: The Story Lab

Media Agency:  Carat, Amplifi, & The Story Lab

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