How HGTV set its ‘Home’ on a winning course

Corus executive John MacDonald on the engagement strategy that helped build a fan base for the series well ahead of its launch.


It’s the biggest show in HGTV Canada’s history, bringing together 20 of the channel’s talent to renovate a house room by room and giving it away to one viewer at the end of the season.

Years in the making, Home to Win, which is produced by Toronto’s Architect Films and HGTV Canada, was first introduced to advertisers at BCON Expo 2015, with Shaw Media (now Corus Entertainment), pitching the show as a boon for potential product integrations.

And the show’s initial response has been warm, thanks in part to a comprehensive pre-broadcast engagement strategy that far beyond the usual bus kings and TV bugs. 

Home to Win premiered on April 24, winning its timeslot in the 25-to-54 demo and earning a total AMA of 459,800, with 195,200 in the 25-to-54 demo, according to final (live +7) numbers. Those final numbers represented significant lift from its overnight ratings, which rang in at 374,100.

But Corus is hoping the engagement metric on this series can be widened, due to the intensive digital campaign it/Shaw Media ran in advance of the series launch. The series contest component was promoted via an email campaign, urging potential viewers to sign up for regular email correspondence ahead of the premiere date. That strategy helped Home to Win‘s website garner 454,264 unique visitors and 2.1 million page views since it went live in mid-February. To date, over 126,000 people have begun the application process to win the home.

In addition, on-air spots went live on Shaw Media’s channels in February and it sponsored the National Home Show in Toronto in mid-March, using it for an activation in which visitors to the show could picture themselves alongside the hosts of Home to Win with a green screen photo activation. An Ontario-focused off-air campaign followed, with OOH bus and subway murals, digital billboards along the Gardiner and dominations at Union Station and Brookfield Place. Creative in the campaign features the group of experts together, as well as individually, with superhero-like names for each HGTV personality.

“Email marketing has definitely played a more significant role in Home to Win,” said John MacDonald, SVP, women and lifestyle content at Corus Entertainment. “The digital and linear components of Home to Win were designed to be intrinsically tied [to one another] and that connection creates an exceptional fan experience. We have strategically planned out a content road map and digital marketing communications plan that continues to feed fans’ appetite for Home to Win content.”

That roadmap also helped boost online viewing of the premiere, which was the most-watched for over that first week, with over 2,000 hours of video viewing.


The design of the website not only sought to deliver on the brand promise of the promotional campaign, but deliver extra value to sponsors of the series. Designed by Toronto-based Stitch Media, the Home to Win site integrates sponsors into the editorial content, adding new rooms online as they are built on the TV show each week. A handful of items in each room are tagged to denote that they’re available to purchase, with a short description, image and “buy now” that appears when clicked.

Benjamin Moore, Leon’s, Lysol, Moen Faucets, Jeld-Wen Windows and Toyota are the brands that have signed on, integrating products into every facet of the home as it’s built. The site also gives visitors the ability to design their own versions of the rooms in the house, with designers offering tips along the way. Users have been spending an average of over four minutes on the design a room page, nearly double the average for, according to Corus.

New episodes of Home to Win air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on HGTV.

From Media in Canada