Christmas Decor was founded in 1986 in Lubbock, Texas as a seasonal side business for a landscaping company. Since then, the lighting and decorations franchise has grown increasingly brilliant, launching nearly 300 locations across the country. The brand prides itself on providing more than 3,000 jobs during its peak season and retaining most key employees year-round. Christmas lights symbolize hope and giving, and Christmas Decor takes that seriously by striving to create public displays that bring a smile to faces young and old.
In 2020, the brand knew it had something special to offer communities when the pandemic made life challenging for families across the country. With white-glove service, simple pricing and installation and a wide variety of bright, beautiful decorations available, the brand wanted nothing more than to light up people’s lives, but it had no way to tell its story.
Christmas Decor came to Mainland with a strong brand in 300 markets and tons of franchisees with great stories, but they weren’t getting the press they needed to continue building on their three decades of momentum. The brand’s PR efforts had grown stale, and there weren’t enough quality media placements to keep the team invigorated.
The brand saw 2020’s gloomy pandemic lockdowns as a massive opportunity to spread cheer and awareness of its brand through holiday light displays. As early as August, requests for light displays started pouring in months ahead of schedule. In short, Christmas Decor knew it had something meaningful to offer, they just needed a PR partner to help tell their story.
The answer to Christmas Decor’s problem came through a partnership with Mainland, which took Christmas Decor’s stalled sleigh and installed a supercharger.
Quickly, Mainland’s team worked with Brandon Stephens, the Christmas Decor’s president, to determine what markets to focus on and what stories to tell there. Mainland’s media relations team quickly got to work cooking up stories and pitching them to local media outlets. The crowning achievement of Mainland’s brainstorming was dreaming up multi-market stories that could work anywhere. Soon, Christmas Decor’s leaders and franchisees would be going on local TV stations to give Christmas decorating safety tips, to give expert opinions on getting the most out of the holidays and how a year of depressing COVID-19 stories drew people towards the twinkling holiday displays.
Mainland ultimately saved Christmas Decor’s PR slump by landing a whopping 45 interviews and 62 PR placements. Fox Business wrote and spoke about the brand three times, along with the Washington Post and ABC News. When the Associated Press’s globally syndicated newswire wanted to speak to an expert about Christmas lights going up early in 2020, Mainland made sure it was Stephens taking the call.
But not only did Mainland find ways for the brand to get press, it found ways for Christmas Decor to act on its values. Christmas Decor franchisees across the country started decorating trees to support causes for the company’s Trees of Hope initiative, which saw interactive light displays raising money for local charities. The Decorated Family initiative saw the brand giving out free holiday decorations and cheer to the families of military service people nominated by their friends and neighbors in the community.
With dozens of media placements, Mainland provided $1,094,950 in public relations value to Christmas Decor. This resulted in a massive increase in year-over-year and percentage increases in sales. Christmas Decor saw an 18% increase in year-over-year sales for the 2020 holiday season. Web leads were just shy of double over 2019.
In terms of franchise sales, the brand brought in 19 new franchisees, totaling 22% growth across the system.
HOW MAINLAND WON
Mainland took a brand that wasn’t getting any traction in the media and, in a few short months, turned it into a household name. Suddenly, Christmas Decor wasn’t just getting sales and franchise development leads but providing fun, outdoor spaces where families could walk among the holiday lights in an otherwise socially distant year.
“The thing about Nick Powills and his people is they just exude a passion for our brand,” said Brandon Stephens, Christmas Decor’s CEO. “I don’t even know many of his people, but every time I talk to them I feel like they work for our company. They’re so passionate about our brand and what we’re trying to do. You can tell by the questions they ask. They’re so on top of things and professional.”
That passion and professionality translated into Stephens realizing his deepest vision for the company. And not only did Stephens get to spread his passion, he realized serious financial rewards.
“We ended up growing 18% in a year when many people struggled. And we made a lot of people feel good,” Stephens said. “The world is full of people who can hang Christmas lights, it’s not full of people who can create a remarkable experience for our clients. That’s what Mainland did for us.”
Mainland’s people-centric model of storytelling drummed up headlines that had mass-market appeal and then targeted them at specific areas to maximize impact. By providing newsrooms around the country with a reliable source for Christmas decorating stories, Mainland’s media relations team set up Christmas Decor as a seasonal favorite and a go-to for expert tips and tricks on the subject.
“When the pandemic hit we were uniquely positioned because people couldn’t travel. They were locked down so they were turning their focus back onto their home. At the end of the day, our brand sells an emotion that’s tied to the holidays. People were just looking for a shining light, and they helped us become an integral part of that,” said Stepehens. “We were on Fox Business doing interviews with people looking to us as an authority. It was almost like a viral movement that happened, a vibrant thing.”