Taking your Message to the Nation's Living Room - ResidentialSystems.com

Taking your Message to the Nation's Living Room

Tried and true marketing tactics like advertising or direct mailing seem to suit most custom systems dealers just fine, though, occasionally an unorthodox approach hits a home run.
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Tried and true marketing tactics like advertising or direct mailing seem to suit most custom systems dealers just fine, though, occasionally an unorthodox approach hits a home run.

Just In Time Communications did just that recently, pulling off the ultimate marketing coup d'tat through unconventional means.

The California-based installation firm teamed up with the Discovery Channel for the latest incarnation of reality TV, called Monster House.

Just In Time served as Monster House's contracted A/V installer for the 13-episode run, and is now showcasing its expertise and imagination on the cable airways. The object of the show, according to Just In Time's president, Justin Jones, is to "transform an ordinary house into an extraordinary house."

The antecedent to this series was Monster Garage, which the Discovery Channel aired to enthusiastic viewer response. And unlike its "reality TV" brethren Survivor and Road Rules, the drama of Monster House involves blueprints, wiring and construction.

For the Just In Time team, the project was exciting, and the girth of viewer interest is positively immense. Since the show's pilot episode aired last month, over 60 million nationwide viewers have tuned in to the builder's antics and wild designs, and interest in Just In Time has swelled to an all time high. Just In Time's website (www.justintime.tv) received 42,000 hits on the night of the first broadcast.

Jones asserts that he and his team were not only prepared--but hoping--for an onslaught of this magnitude. In the months before the show aired, Just In Time beefed up its personnel significantly, adding administrative support and technical specialists. Jones also spent $27,000 on redesigning his company's website, gearing it up for new leads.

The Monster House series is a collaboration between the Discovery Channel and Original Productions; new episodes run on Monday nights at 8pm EST/PST.

Each show commences with Discovery Channel's "Monster Foreman" and host Steve Watson touring the designated residence and gleaning ideas from the homeowners on their desired remodel. Then show's design team creates the renovation blueprints from scratch as walls are erected around to the home to prevent anyone from stealing a sneak peek at the project. The plans are then handed over to Discovery Channel's builders and installers to immediately begin the renovation process.

The network maintains full creative control on the remodel and allows their team of builders, installers and designers only one week to turn the house into an extreme, theme-oriented decor. Themes chosen for the series include Race Car House, Medieval House, '70s House and everything in between.

One of the first homes in the series to be retrofitted was an urban residence morphed into a medieval castle, fully equipped with a chain-operated drawbridge that turns into a kitchen table.

According to Sam Lunay, associate producer of Original Productions, "During the Middle Ages, the family gathered around the hearth after dinner to watch the fire. So to emulate this as much as possible, we designed the living room to appear as a hearth," he explained. "It features a non-operating fireplace with simulated rock and wood, but yet is functionally designed to serve as a media center. The hearth houses the television, which is hidden in the chimney when not in use, and must be lowered through a manual crank." The medieval milieu was enhanced in the living room by the crossing large beams flush against the ceiling.

The entire team of builders faced numerous challenges on the Medieval House, though the A/V integrators found certain hurdles to be particularly irksome. "The real challenge was combining the mid-evil [sic] dcor with modern day technology," Jones said. "The design team for the home dcor needed to put the rafters in the ceiling right where we needed to install the speakers." SpeakerCraft speakers solved these project glitches with unique flexibility due to an adjustable woofer and tweeter configuration. "Our 'mid-evil' theater problem were solved utilizing SpeakerCraft's AIM speakers. Because AIM speakers have a fully adjustable woofer and tweeter, we were able to install the speakers alongside the rafters instead of where we'd normally prefer to place them. With the push of the hand, we received audio directly where it needed to go," Jones stated.

Another challenge in that room was that the team had to maintain system integrity while adhering to a strict budget. Jones contends that, again, AIM speakers met his needs, as the line was diverse enough to provide solutions for all price points while retaining its adjustable woofer-tweeter design.
The experience with the Discovery Channel has taught Just In Time tricks to performing at top level under deadline pressure in a web of chaos. "Working with camera crews at first gave our guys a little stage fright, but now we're really comfortable and confident," Jones said. "It has made us stronger in the field because the diversity on the shoot--camera crews, sound people and four other contractors--has made us focused on the task. We're really doing and making it happen."

As a 10-year old company, Just In Time has finally nailed its target clientele. Monster House--with its powerful distribution and fun medium--has contributed unprecedented viewer interest and project leads. Most importantly, the show gave the firm the rare opportunity to showcase their talents in their own organic element.

"We found our niche in this industry--bringing custom home theater into everybody's home--but realized that not enough people knew about us," Jones said. "Now we've opened us up in other places in the country. People know about us. We're a West Coast company and we want to move our way to the East Coast."

Margot Douaihy is managing editor of Residential Systems magazine.

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