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Wood Promotion Network Is Worthy of Support;
Campaign on Behalf of Forest Products Industry Seeks to Strengthen Wood Markets, Build Confidence in Forestry
Date Posted: 9/4/2001
Industries that compete with forest products, such as steel, concrete and plastics, have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars in order to gain market share from wood. Their efforts have included hard- hitting, negative messages about wood. In the absence of clear messages about the advantages and benefits of wood, these competing industries already have begun to effectively label wood as a 'product of the past.'
In addition, many prominent and well-funded environmental groups make claims that North American forests are shrinking dramatically as a result of logging and other commercial forestry activities. Their claims, though erroneous, take on an aura of truth when not rebutted. Ever wish the forest products industry had a strong, united voice to counter these attacks by competing industries and the environmental movement? It does — the Wood Promotion Network.
The Wood Promotion Network is a three-year campaign funded and organized by individual businesses and trade associations in the forest products industry. The goal, simply put, is to promote wood.
"The campaign is first and foremost a business-to-business campaign with consumer cover for the wood user," explained Kelly McCloskey, president and CEO of the Wood Promotion Network. "The reason for this is that the decision-makers for most wood products are not usually the consumers directly. They are the companies using the wood -- like a builder."
The Wood Promotion Network has two very specific goals:
1. To secure and expand wood markets in North America.
2. To increase confidence in the abundance and sustainability of North America's forests.
The campaign is two-pronged. One portion of the campaign targets builders, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers, promoting wood's natural, affordable, easy-to-work-with, and renewable attributes. It also seeks to strengthen the economic advantages of wood with builders and other wood users.
The second prong in the campaign promotes the fact that North America's forests are growing in size — not shrinking. This message is being delivered to everyone from builders and dealers to educators and consumers.
A third aspect of the campaign is developing a strong coalition of forest products companies and allied groups and raising $45 million to fund the communication campaign. The coalition so far has grown to more than 240 wood product companies, suppliers and allied companies and related associations.
The forest products industry is very fragmented, noted Kelly. "This creates additional challenges not faced by our competition. Our goal is to produce and distribute a few, well tested concepts that everyone can pick up and carry with their own. The goal isn't to speak with one voice, but to have thousands of voices, all carrying a few simple messages. It is in this regard that we need the support of all wood users, suppliers and customers."
As you might expect, most of the leading companies in the forest products industry are leading supporters of the Wood Promotion Network, but the campaign will be the most successful the more supporters it attracts - whether they are international corporations or small, family-held businesses.
Serving as co-chairmen of the Wood Promotion Network are Steve Rogel, chairman, president and CEO of Weyerhaeuser Co., and Don Gould, president and COO of Pas Lumber Co. Ltd. Other companies represented on the campaign's CEO Council include Pope & Talbot, West Fraser Timber Co., Travis Lumber, Abitibi-Consolidated, Roseburg Forest Products, Simpson Timber Co., and so on.
The efforts of competing industries and environmentalists have had an influence on regulators and customers and impacted the forest products industry, Rogel and Gould note in a letter to prospective industry partners. "It's time to turn the tide. We all know wood is a superior building product and is the best environmental choice, especially with solid evidence that North America's forests are increasing in size."
The organizers of the campaign looked to the larger forest product companies for the initial support to get it off the ground. "We are now continuing to build the coalition with the objective of making it as broad and deep as possible," said Kelly. "We have hardwood and softwood, U.S. and Canadian, primary and secondary products, large integrated and small family- owned companies, and we have support from suppliers and customers from virtually every sector. The challenge now is to take the 167 companies to 1,670 over the next two years."
Some of the trade associations that have taken a leadership role in the Wood Promotion Network include APA-The Engineered Wood Association, the Canadian Wood Council, the Southern Forest Products Association, the Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, the Western Wood Products Association, the Forest Products Association of Canada and the American Forest & Paper Association.
The Wood Promotion Network turned to Bozell Advertising and BSMG Worldwide to develop an integrated marketing campaign that includes trade and consumer education and promotion of the use of wood and wood products. (Bozell Advertising, which has expertise in category marketing, developed successful ad campaigns for two other commodities, milk [Got Milk?] and pork [Pork-The Other White Meat].) The campaign has developed several specific communication tools:
One of the principal initiatives of the campaign is an education program that has as its theme, Be Constructive: Wood. It will educate consumers and trade customers with important facts about wood's superior attributes, such as:
Wood is as safe, sturdy and dependable building material as any other. Plus, it has a number of other advantages, such as ease of assembly.
Wood is the best insulator against heat and cold, which makes it the most energy efficient material that can help keep home energy bills in check.
Regardless of market volatility, wood is the most affordable building material. Framing an average three-bedroom house can cost up to 30% less with wood compared to other framing materials.
New innovations in engineered wood products and pre-made panels and trusses help builders and homeowners keep down framing costs.
North American forests are not decreasing. Regeneration efforts are succeeding, and the industry has embraced efforts to independently certify that the working lands under its care are managed for long-term sustainability. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization State of the World's Forest Report 2001, the North American forest cover was unchanged from 1990 to 2000. Today, North American forests are about the same size as 100 years ago.
Production and use of wood conserves more natural resources compared to any other building material. It takes up to 21 times less non-renewable fossil fuels to produce wood framing materials than steel framing materials and up to nine times less energy to build with wood versus concrete. Wood is the world's only 100% renewable building material and is manufactured with the organic power of solar energy.
The first year of the campaign has been mostly a start-up effort. Organizers established a coalition of supporters, developed and produced successful television and print advertising, and hired a small virtually-networked staff.
The Wood Promotion Network was officially launched earlier this year at the North American Home Builders show in Atlanta -- the world's largest building trade show. The campaign had a target audience of 70,000 to reach with buttons, bumper stickers and other promotional material bearing the Be Constructive: Wood slogan. The network also staged several media events to draw attention to wood's versatility and ease of use. Targeted media relations resulted in national television network coverage of Lou Manfredini, "Mr. Fix-It," explaining why wood is the preferred material for safe, energy efficient homes. The trade show also marked the debut of BeConstrucitive.com, a Web site that provides information to builders and consumers. 'Guerilla media,' such as billboards, taxi tops, sports arena postings and magazine and television advertising, also were used to publicize and promote the campaign.
"Wood is the greatest story never told," Kelly said in Atlanta, helping to kick off the campaign. "Wood is the material that has literally built North America, from the dream home to the picket fence that surrounds it, and we want everyone to know why wood continues to be the preferred building material for builders and homeowners alike."
In some of the latest developments in the campaign, new Be Constructive: Wood television commercials aired in test markets in Dallas, Denver and Atlanta. The response from customers and partners was overwhelmingly positive. The ads ran in July and were scheduled to run throughout August on Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates and on high-profile programs, such as "Your New House," "Bob Villa's Home Again," "The Today Show," "20/20," and Denver Broncos' football games.
When the wood and forest television ads finish running, all seven wood and forest test markets will be re-measured to determine their impact. The results of these and other campaign assessments will be circulated in mid-September.
TimberLine would like to encourage readers and members of the pallet and sawmill industries to get behind the Wood Promotion Network and to support it. Become a WPN partner and help spread the important messages of the campaign.
"The Wood Promotion Network is providing a very valuable service to counter the misleading, negative messages about wood that emenate from competing materials and the preservationist movement," said Ed Brindley Jr., publisher of TimberLine. "We are supporting this important campaign, and I want to urge our readers and friends in the logging, sawmill and pallet industries to join us and the other businesses and associations in the forest products industry that are participating."
For more information or to contribute to the Wood Promotion Network, contact Kelly at (604) 891-1224, fax (604) 891-1218, or e-mail email@example.com, or Dale Simpson, WPN vice president for coalition development and international communication, at (206) 948-0205, fax (425) 277-0821, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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