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INTRODUCTION

Both HGTV and DIY are owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, a large corporation that also owns the Food Network, Great American Country, and Fine Living.  They call themselves, “American’s Leader in Lifestyle Media.”  They launched HGTV in 1994, and it has been their most successful network.

The mere fact that Scripps feels they need two different networks for home decoration and improvement demonstrates that they think they need to reach separate and distinct audiences. Just who are they trying to reach through HGTV?  Through DIY?  This project analyzes that question.

logos

The following quote is taken from HGTV’s website:

“Take a fresh approach to the way you live with Home & Garden Television. You’ll find ideas and inspiration to transform your space, and the expert help you need to accomplish it. Of course, sometimes you’d rather dream than do. That’s when you can join us for a peek into extraordinary homes around the world and the people who live inside.”

As you can see from the quote, Scripps intends for HGTV to appeal to people who like the idea of a “fresh approach,” and those who would “rather dream than do.”  The network is also geared toward people who are not only interested in home decorating and home improvement, but also in the people who live in those homes.  In our society, those descriptions are generally associated with women.

On the other hand, Scripps promotes DIY as “the go-to destination for rip-up, knock-out home improvement television.”  And who in our society likes to “rip-up” and “knock-out”?  Why, men, of course!

From Scripps’s own description of their networks, it appears they have chosen to market HGTV more toward women and DIY more toward men.  How have they chosen to do this?  Do they succeed?  We have taken a look at each site to analyze their marketing strategies.

HGTV

HGTV Homepage

Soft blues, greens, browns and rose colors invite consumers to the HGTV.com homepage and welcome them into a world of brand new housewares and vaulted ceilings. The background, a gradiated bluish-grey is super calming to anxious homeowners trying to up their retail value and sets off the crisp whites and browns that accent the websites topic sections. The website gives off a CLEAN vibe—everything is neat, tidy, soft, and well-kept. Kind of like the audience that visits the website. Even the fonts are a no-frills, classic addition to the overall feel of the website. Easy to read and simplistic, they compliment the color and design scheme of the website without drawing attention away from the multiple images that HGTV employs to catch their reader’s eye.

The layout design continues to promote the idea of organized improvement and the “ideal house” that HGTV is selling. Headings such as “Kick Back and Relax,” “Rate My Space,” and “Eye Candy—HGTV’s Dream Kitchens” tell audiences that, while promoting home improvements, HGTV is not advocating any real do-it-yourself projects. Most of the improvements they suggest on the website involve a team of designers that work with the very best materials and a major heist to bankroll the whole thing because the majority of middle class homeowners could never afford the type of upgrades that HGTV sells to its audience. Not to mention the implications that the “Rate my Space” section has behind it. Inviting middle/ high end socioeconomic consumers to “rate” the desirability of others’ homes is a commentary on the target audience of HGTV: women. More specifically, housewives. 

Each individual decision made by the website creators adds up to one very important message that HGTV is trying to send us: BUY. BUY. BUY. Change your home. Shell out the money—you know those improvements are worth it! Even the HGTV logo at the very top of the home page is in the shape of a price tag, as if it is conditioning us from the get go to be receptive to their ultimate message: Follow our tips and your life will be as fabulous as we advertise ours to be. And, in our society, women are a group that is notoriously receptive to this message. Coupled with the androgynous (bordering on the more feminine) color scheme and eye-catching headlines, HGTV created a can’t-miss spectacle with their website. Mission accomplished.

 

DIY

DIY Homepage

HGTV’s more masculine counterpart, DIY Network, also seeks to create a website that will effectively reach its target audience: men. More specifically, “manly” men. You know the type: the ones that—bless their hearts—try to be self-sufficient home improvement gods. Try being the operative word. The website itself opens with a cement grey background covered with a few masculinely colored paint swatches—primary blue, olive, and deep browns. A far cry from the softer, more androgynous colors featured on HGTV’s page. DIY Network is for the guys. Advertisements for shows such as “Man Caves,” “Rock Solid,” and “Garage Mahal” leave no doubt in the imagination as to that fact. Even the women that host shows on the network (interestingly enough, there’s only one) fits the masculine ideal of a woman that can handle her “tools.”

Heavy browns, blacks, and reds contrast the stark white that makes up the majority of the background for the website. The fonts are reminiscent of the HGTV network page, and similarities abound between the two websites. There is, again, no question that this website layout was targeted to one very specific audience, just as HGTV aimed theirs. DIY allows men to feel like they may, with the proper instruction, be able to do some of the household repairs themselves before they have to put down the hammer, admit defeat, and look on some of the websites resources leading them to reputable (and expensive) outside vendors, but it is still aimed towards high middle class audiences that have the resources to be able to bring someone in to do a job.

HGTV

Dreaming big and aesthetics drive the values represented on the HGTV website. Its focus is on the value of product quality and beauty over functionality. The thought of hard work and sweat equity is left to the curb with headings like Eye Candy: HGTV Dream Home Kitchens to promote ideas of “Beach Inspired Beauty” and “Wine Country Gathering Spots.” These picturesque settings appeal to the extravagant spender who would rather hire a design team than invest time and energy by doing it themselves.   

outdoor                        

Pictures of outdoor summer entertaining and over-the-top pantries capture the lifestyle of the organized social host or hostess. From outdoor decorating suggestions to Fine Living cocktail recipes, the idea of relaxing and entertaining permeate the major themes of the HGTV homepage. For the lifestyle of the tidy housewife or the multitasking mother, headlines like Organize Your Summer appeal to the management of clutter and daily activities.

From the point of view of a high-end decorator or a middle-upper class homeowner, the HGTV website was created for their interests and lifestyles. The idea of a quick fix by replacing with something newer and better, as well as the emphasis on aesthetics and product quality represents the essence of their values as professionals and homeowners.

 

DIY

In contrast, the ideas of hard work, sweat equity, and functionality represent the values expressed on the DIY website. Headlines like How to Create a Flagstone Patio, Start an Outdoor Kitchen, and Construct a Seating Wall all convey the values of its intended audience. For this audience, aesthetics rates second to functionality and personal investment.

Images of hands-on projects and how-to’s demonstrate the handy-man lifestyle of husbands and homeowners who are involved in the upgrades and maintenance of their home and lawn. This audience also enjoys entertaining but not at outdoor garden parties. Man-caves and outdoor kitchens function as the social scenes for this masculine audience.

The DIY website definitely represents the point of view of a contractor or middle class homeowner willing to put in the time and labor to maintain and upgrade their home without spending additional cost to hire a team for help. These do-it-yourselfers invest skill and sweat by taking personal pride in their home and lawns.

HGTV

HGTV’s website calls out to the viewer, “Let’s keep your shopping dollars within the family!”  HGTV.com almost singularly reserves its advertising space for in-house entities tied to the HGTV family.  Shopping is important on this website.  Out of eleven tabs that organize the website, the tab farthest to the right (so easy to click!) is labeled “Shop.”  This tab connects the viewer with items previously seen or mentioned on various HGTV programs.  You can remain a part of the HGTV family and buy the same products that you’ve seen and desired on the shows.  At the bottom of the homepage, the viewer is invited to browse and shop at sister companies including DIY Network, Food Network and FrontDoor (a real estate company).

 subzero

Only one outside advertiser has prominent space allocation on the website and that advertiser is Sub-Zero.  The Sub-Zero logo sits above a picture of a stainless steel appliance kitchen with the caption “Win a $50,000 Sub-Zero Dream Kitchen.”  Any consumer that has shopped for kitchen appliances knows that Sub-Zero is the ultimate in refrigeration and cost.  A typical, built-in sub-zero refrigerator costs $5,000.  The glass-fronted door model shown in the site’s advertisement (the consumer can actually see inside the refrigerator without even opening the door!) could actually cost upwards of $7,000.  HGTV aligns themselves with an advertiser that might as well be a Ferrari in the kitchen. 

The only other mention of advertising on the homepage is a small subheading, more than half-way down the page, labeled “Sponsor recommendations.”  There are two bullet points listed, one for Sonic shakes and one for Fine Living (a magazine) cocktails.  No logos for either company are present.  The slight mention and space given to the “sponsors” are definitely subordinate to the single outside advertiser, Sub-Zero. 

 

DIY

Similar to HGTV, the DIY network homepage chooses its advertisers carefully and in moderation.  DIY aligns itself with Glidden, who is labeled a “launch partner” on the website and therefore given prominence.  Glidden is a paint company that “gets you going.”   Glidden appears as a huge masthead, directly under the organizing tabs of the website, and takes about one-third of the screen.  Glidden also has a second ad space lower on the homepage, the only outside advertisment listed.  Glidden is not only an advertiser on this site, then, but a major contributor and partner.  By aligning themselves with Glidden, DIY conveys that they are a site for the everyman.  Paint is a product that is accessible to just about anyone.  Any real estate agent will tell you that the cheapest fix for a home is a new paint job.  Within the world of paint choices, Glidden is moderately priced and easily available.  Glidden typically sells at hardware stores for about $15 per gallon versus the $30 gallon of paint sold at specialty paint stores such as Benjamin Moore.  

glidden

Shopping as an activity is not encouraged on this website.  There is no “Shop” tab at the top, although there is a very minor “Shop Products” link above the tab line.  Within the homepage, there is a “Products” box that illustrates about eight products that the viewer can click to view.  These products are presumably for sale, but there is no mention of the ability to purchase. 

Similar to HGTV, the DIY website continually advertises sister shows and sister companies.  At the very bottom of the homepage, ads for Food Network and FrontDoor (two sister sites) are displayed. 

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