Whether they realize it or not, building products marketers — like all marketers — are after one thing. It’s not brand awareness. Customer loyalty. Clicks or views or impressions or engagement. It’s not even sales.

All those goals are important, but they can’t be achieved without first… capturing attention.

With millions of videos, images, articles, and other pieces of content available on every social media platform, not to mention the growing number of streaming services and that quaint, old technology called television… the competition for eyeballs is intense.

To get noticed, building products marketers sometimes have to go to extremes. Pella Windows seems to have done this quite literally, judging by a recent YouTube collaboration.

Did Pella succeed? We’re not so sure.

A ‘Far Out’ Collaboration

To show the strength and durability of their fiberglass windows, Pella collaborated with professional surfer and YouTuber Jamie O’Brien to create videos for each of their YouTube channels.

The premise of the collaboration was simple: O’Brien took a specially made Pella window into the waves on Hawaii’s North Shore… and surfed on it.

The idea was solid. It demonstrated in a visually interesting way that if Pella Windows could withstand the extreme environment of whitewater surf, they could surely perform in a regular home installation.

The question is: Did it work?

We give Pella high marks for creativity. However, the execution didn’t quite live up to its potential, with one caveat.

The collaboration resulted in two videos.

The one on O’Brien’s channel was a 10-minute vacation video for Hawaii, showcasing the surfer lifestyle. Beautiful footage of O’Brien and his buddies, riding the swells, shooting the pipelines, and hanging loose (we’re not sure we got the surfer lingo right). But, well, you get the vibe.

The video also included a few minutes of O’Brien opening his new “window board,” talking about it, and surfing on it. Overall, it was a pretty “rad” video, with just the right amount of Pella-sponsored content.

The version posted on Pella’s channel was about three minutes in length and focused more on how the brand partnered with O’Brien to come up with the idea and build the window surfboard. The video also included some surfing footage.

Early Signs of Success

As we said at the beginning of this article, attention is the key currency for marketers these days. By partnering with O’Brien, Pella created something unexpected and visually interesting.

If you’ve done those two things, you’ve already won. Is it working for Pella?

The answer is yes, sort of.

Pella’s YouTube channel offers pretty standard, corporate content, focused on products, engineering, and their people.

The surfing video offers a significant departure from their usual approach. As of this writing, it has generated around 1,100 views on Pella’s YouTube page, which is respectable… but not something to get overly “stoked” about.

The real exposure came on O’Brien’s page, which boasts nearly 800,000 subscribers. As of this writing, the Pella video on his page has garnered nearly 134,000 views. Clearly, the collaboration has exposed Pella to a large, new audience.

But is it the right audience? Will it result in creating sales opportunities for Pella? Was it worth the cost?

The jury is still out on that, and the answer may never be known outside of Pella’s walls. We’re not familiar with the demographics of O’Brien’s audience, but certainly some of them will be in a position to buy windows in the next year or so.

Interestingly, this past week, Kantar announced the winners of their 2021 Creative Effectiveness Awards, which recognize the most impactful ads of the past year, as determined by consumers across the globe.

Pella’s “Stormy Heights” ad was honored in the Top 10 Television Ads category. The ad — while certainly creative — leans toward the traditional, showing families confronted with inclement weather seeking shelter inside as Pella windows protect the residents and their homes from the likes of flying pool umbrellas.

We have two questions. If Pella knows how to deliver one of the “most effective ads of the year,” why did they risk diluting their brand promise with the outside-of-the-box window surfing idea? And do they risk confusing their audience?

Daring, but Incomplete

Back to the window surfboard.

As a standalone effort, the Pella/O’Brien collaboration has dubious value, in our view. While we appreciate the risks the brand took to gain attention, we don’t think it hit the right target.

But, of course, we may be too early in our judgment.

This could be just the beginning of a whole content series in which Pella Windows are subjected to extremes. We could envision snowboarding on a window. Or skateboarding. Perhaps navigating the half-pipe?

If Pella continues pulling on this thread, it could indeed be a very successful campaign that will reach far beyond surfers and skateboarders to their target market of homeowners.

Until that time, we’re giving Pella’s “window surfing” project an incomplete.

Looking to develop more awareness and affinity for your brand? Send an email to sk@kleberandassociates.com to get the conversation started.


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