Jennifer O'Grady - Head of Agency

Head of Agency

STANDING shoulder-to-shoulder with the UK’s leading paint brand, Dulux, as its PR partner as we were thrown into – and emerged from –  lockdown has demonstrated the power and value of modern PR.

Democracy has been working with Dulux since 2018. Our brief is to bring stakeholder communications across consumer, decorator and specifier audiences together under a masterbrand positioning.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic required us all to see things differently. As brand leader, Dulux had to offer appropriate advice and support to all its varied stakeholders  – homeowners as well as professional decorators – all with the aim of bringing colour to people’s lives in lockdown. 

It was about finding new ways to communicate, at a time when nothing was how it used to be.

The impact of Covid-19

The nation’s tens of thousands of professional painters and decorators were hit hard by the lockdown, with 64 per cent forced to down tools, and as many as 34,000 predicted to leave the industry as a result of Covid-19. 

Dulux Trade quickly developed a suite of decorator resources to support the trade, with advice on getting access to Government support, business management resources to help decorators future proof their businesses and opportunities to upskill in lockdown via Dulux Academy Live, a series of virtual training courses from industry experts. 

The businesses’ retail arm of merchants – Dulux Decorator Centre – initially closed its hundreds of stores, but once they reopened, comms focused on supporting customers to get the essentials they needed to get back to work safely. 

Dulux Decorator Centre launched a campaign to back the nation’s decorators, including offering discounts on accounts terms, a Checkatrade partnership to help customers promote their businesses and a Workfinder service to unite big contractors with smaller decorators looking for work.

Construction sites had been encouraged to keep working throughout the crisis, however, for many it has been on reduced staff numbers, different shift patterns and new working practices. To help the entire sector adapt and build back better, Democracy developed an industry insights webinar series, together with the Dulux Decorator Centre, featuring leading voices from across the construction sector, called the DDC 360 Insights Series.

Industry experts from businesses like Willmott Dixon, Care UK,  Bell Group and Cousins Group have provided first hand insights into how they have responded and adapt to the challenges of working in construction during Covid-19. The events have been a huge success with hundreds of attendees tuning in live and many hundreds more viewing on catch up. As a result, these webinars are being continued for the rest of the year at least.

And for consumers…

For consumers, the overwhelming majority of whom were stuck at home for months, Dulux had also to change the way it communicated and what it could speak about. No longer could the conversation be about the possibilities of nipping to the shops for the latest colours to transform your domestic spaces. Instead, the focus was on what people already had at home, the half full cans and leftovers, and how to get creative with those. It was decided to maximise the in-house expertise of creative director Marianne Shillingford to produce ‘at home’ inspirational content for owned channels, primarily Instagram, showing what could be achieved.

A string of at-home produced content executed across Dulux social media channels engaged the lockdown audience with fun, helpful content they could replicate with little equipment or budget. This was then seeded by the Democracy amplification team to high authority media sites to spread awareness and drive visits to the page. With our unrivaled contact list, and a stream of top quality content, we secured coverage across the UK’s highest authority media including The Sunday Times, and reached more than 8million people.

The right content at the right time

The result has been a period when Dulux has proved itself to be totally in tune with its very different audience groups, building a loyalty that will endure for a long time to come through the right content at the right time. By providing content that was of genuine value to a trade, contractor and consumer audience, Dulux has remained relevant during and after the lockdown.