It's a sign of the times: builders leveraging high-end, highly recognized retailers to boost their marketing efforts and cast a wider net for sales traffic and buyers. But it's not as easy as simply slapping a logo on a print ad or Web site. Just ask Maureen McDermott, sales and marketing director for Oak Leaf Homes in West Chester, Ohio, near Cincinnati. After months of being a patient yet squeaky wheel, she successfully navigated the co-branding waters to convince heralded home furnishings retailer Pottery Barn to style and merchandise model homes for The Villages at Rivers Bend. “I found the right person who was willing to risk the Pottery Barn brand, even though it was a new concept for them,” says McDermott. “I convinced them of the uniqueness of the community and how strong the market was for their products.”

The fee agreement was in line with the builder's budget for merchandising, so Pottery Barn sent a team of designers to scout and spec the model homes, then used the experience as a (successful) case study for future ventures to strengthen its channels into new housing. McDermott further leveraged the partnership by hosting a one-day holiday “shopping frenzy” involving more than 30 local retailers. Local businesses set up booths and tables in the walk-out basement of the model homes in return for promotion of the event, which attracted 200-plus shoppers to the project and helped build awareness and inspire word-of-mouth advertising as well as gain some local press. The model homes are also offered free to area groups and businesses for events, further endearing the builder to the community.

PERFECT PARTNER: Oak Leaf Homes convinced retailer Pottery Barn to co-brand on its model-home  complex at The Village at Rivers Bend, the first such venture for the home  furnishing retailer.
PERFECT PARTNER: Oak Leaf Homes convinced retailer Pottery Barn to co-brand on its model-home complex at The Village at Rivers Bend, the first such venture for the home furnishing retailer.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Co-branding with Pottery Barn; Builder: Oak Leaf Homes, West Chester, Ohio; Advertising agency: In-house; Cost: No cost above the builder's existing budget

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Cincinnati, OH.