Back in 2010, Sears opened a “Craftsman Experience” studio in Chicago.
I remember talking to the Craftsman social/community manager prior to it opening, about what kinds of activities, stations, and experiences the then-in-progress Craftsman Experience could feature.
When it opened, the Craftsman Experience was promised to have Craftsman tools “as far the eye can see,” with most if not all tools available for hands-on demos. There was to be a workshop and space for projects, how-to clinics, demonstrations, restorations, and more.
I visited the Craftsman Experience in 2011, and had an interesting time as an instructor for a “blogger” workshop where a couple of us led some parent and lifestyle bloggers through a couple of woodworking projects.
But, the Craftsman Experience wasn’t quite what I expected.
Then, in 2012, the Craftsman Experience was remodeled and converted into the Kenmore Craftsman Brand Live Experience Studio.
The content that came out of that studio was okay, but it never seemed to reach its full potential.
I have been watching some of Bon Appetit’s videos. Bon Appetit is a cooking magazine, and I’ve been enjoying some of Brad’s fermentation and hot sauce experiments, and Claire’s efforts to recreate store-bought foods and snacks at home. My daughter has been watching Claire’s homemade pizza roll efforts, and we’ll be finishing up the 30-something minute video later tonight.
Although it’s a cooking show, completely unrelated to tools, I think that Bon Appetit got everything right in how they structured their videos. There’s a test kitchen with different stations, and the different hosts/personalities/cooks produce clean and relatively BS-free videos as they demonstrate different things in front of the camera.
The episodes are well-executed and enjoyable, and they cover a wide range of cooking-related topics.
I couldn’t help but wonder about what a tool-related show of similar structuring might look like. It would have to be a little different, as Bon Appetit focuses on the use of kitchen gear without focusing on the gear itself, and a tool brand would be more focused on the products they want to inform fans and potential customers about. But there’s no reason that shows or episodes couldn’t find a balance between tools and project demonstrations.
Yes, there are a lot of DIY, woodworking, and project YouTubers out there, but individuals don’t come close to the type of structuring that Bon Appetit has accomplished. I suppose there are some larger content-creation companies that could emulate Bon Appetit’s presentation styles, but none come to mind.
Perhaps some of Adam Savage’s Tested videos come close, where he goes through projects methodically, from what he wants to do, through the how.
There are lots of big players in the industry who could and perhaps should bolster their video creation efforts. If content opportunities seem limited, they could always sponsor members of the huge pool of independent YouTubers and content creators for guest spots, maybe even flying a one or two person camera crew to different locations.
Which tool brands could set up a nice studio and series of videos aimed at DIYers or Pro users?
Stanley Black & Decker’s Craftsman brand could do it, and I quite frankly expected them to do something similar years ago. With so many brands under the SBD corporate umbrella, there are plenty of tools to better show off to the public.
Stanley Black & Decker already has a huge demo space in “Black & Decker University” in Maryland, or at least they did – it’s been years since we’ve been there and things might have changed.
Ryobi could surely do it.
Walmart and TTI’s Hart tools team could surely do it.
Lowe’s Kobalt team might not have as broad a selection of tools as the other brands, but maybe it’s something they’d be capable of doing too.
Apex Tool Group has a broad selection of hand tool brands. Their structuring would have to be different, with demo cars and such, but I’m sure they could come up with projects to show off their tools on.
Epicurious has some interesting videos as well, where they show how beginner, experienced amateur, and professional cooks, chefs, or bakers create their own versions of the same dish. This is something that could work as well, showing off different approaches to the same project or tool-related tasks.
I can no longer find any good tool or project-related content on TV, and while there are a lot of great woodworking and metalworking YouTubers out there, I sometimes struggle to find content of personal interest.
Cutting through the noise is a problem whenever I try to research new product categories, with there being more unboxing videos, hands-off “reaction” videos, shock speculation, and other such less-meaty content.
Here’s my point – I want to see more project-related videos, and I think that Bon Appetit’s structuring and styling would be a great way to do it. This is the kind of formatting that the Craftsman Experience should have had years ago, and there are plenty of current and active brands that could and perhaps even should ramp up their video content creation efforts.
Even if a brand doesn’t want to set up their own studio space, decide upon a structured format and fly out to many of the talented YouTube content creators and produce a project episode each week. Or, fly out guest creators and film them in a small studio space.
DIY focused brands, such as Craftsman and Ryobi need to be called out on this. There’s a shortage of compelling creative project content – how about some Bon Appetit-style videos that I can watch, and even watch with my kids.
Bon Appetit’s video formats are what Craftsman should have done back at the Craftsman Experience. What’s the excuse for brands’ avoidance of project videos in this day and age?
Look at Craftsman’s YouTube channel. There was a holiday tools commercial 2 months ago, and before that commercials focusing on tool storage boxes. I am thoroughly disappointed in the lack of effort by Craftsman and other DIY tool-focused brands. I know it’s unfair to compare tool brands to cooking magazines, but surely they can do better.