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Mohawk captures gold Stevie award for SmartStrand campaign

Stevie Awards LogoCalhoun, Ga.Mohawk Flooring’s yearlong SmartStrand Forever Clean launch campaign has been awarded a gold Stevie award in the American Business Awards program, one of the nation’s most celebrated marketing and business recognition programs. The award is one of three national honors garnered in 2016 by the company’s far-reaching durability test in partnership with the Tough Mudder Challenge.

“This campaign was a thoughtful, ambitious approach to sharing SmartStrand features and assets with the world, and these national awards are a result of the true ingenuity of our Mohawk associates,” said Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, content and social media at Mohawk.

The Stevie Business Awards program attracted more than 3,400 nominations. Mohawk Flooring’s gold Stevie award was earned in the New Product or Service Introduction of the Year category, in which only one Gold honor was presented. The award was announced during an awards gala held in New York on June 20.

At the heart of Mohawk Flooring’s award-winning campaign was a multifaceted sponsorship of the Tough Mudder Challenge torture test, in which new SmartStrand carpet was put “to the test” in the internationally known obstacle races. Twenty feet of SmartStrand carpet was rolled out on eight Tough Mudder courses where it was stomped on by more than 10,000 muddy participants at each location. The carpet was then shoveled out of the mud and successfully cleaned using only water.

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Mohawk Flooring wins prestigious PRSA awards

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.58.12 PMCalhoun, Ga.—Mohawk Flooring has been named a winner of the 2016 PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence and the PRSA Bronze Anvil Award of Commendation for its year-long SmartStrand Forever Clean launch campaign centered around the company’s 2015 sponsorship of the Tough Mudder obstacle race. Largely known as the public relations industry’s top honor, the Silver Anvil indicates Mohawk’s far-reaching and strategic campaign development designed to lead customers to its retailers across the U.S., Canada and Australia.

“We are truly honored to be among the 2016 PRSA Silver and Bronze Anvil program award winners and give recognition to the hard work of so many talented Mohawk associates,” said Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, content and social media for Mohawk Flooring. “Last year’s award-winning campaign placed our SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet in the middle of an international obstacle challenge. In the course of the campaign, our product faced a variety of challenges and opportunities head-on to ultimately showcase the cleanability of SmartStrand Forever Clean for the entire world to see. It was a powerful activation for the Mohawk brand and, most importantly, our retail partners.”

Recognizing public relations skill, creativity and resourcefulness, the Silver Anvil Award has served as the public relations industry’s most distinguished honor for more than 60 years. The coveted awards program recognizes the most influential and creative PR campaigns throughout the nation and allows winners to promote and share best practices. This year’s ceremony was held on June 9 at the AXA Equitable Center in New York City; Mohawk Flooring was recognized in the Marketing, Products category.

The PRSA Bronze Anvil awards program recognizes and honors the very best public relations tactics executed every year. Of the 639 entries submitted in 2016, only 65 organizations were selected as winners by the Bronze Anvil judges. Mohawk Flooring’s SmartStrand campaign won in the Word-of-Mouth category.

At the heart of Mohawk Flooring’s award-winning campaign was the multifaceted sponsorship of the Tough Mudder Challenge torture test, which put the new SmartStrand carpet “to the test” in Tough Mudder’s internationally known obstacle races. Twenty feet of SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet was rolled out on eight Tough Mudder course, where it was stomped on by more than 10,000 muddy participants at each location. The carpet was then shoveled out of the mud and successfully cleaned using only water.

The campaign was supported by robust in-store marketing materials, local event activation kits, national social media sweepstakes and local social media content. Mohawk also worked with leading bloggers to communicate about the campaign.

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Mohawk Solutions: Aligned dealers eagerly embrace Forever Clean

December 22/29, 2014; Volume 28/Number 13

Next-gen SmartStrand unveiled at convention

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.31.00 AMOrlando, Fla.—Mohawk aligned dealers were introduced to the manufacturer’s latest carpet innovation, SmartStrand Forever Clean (FCNews Dec. 8/15), at this year’s Solutions convention held here Dec. 4-5, leading to one of the most exciting events in recent years, according to a number of aligned Floorscapes and ColorCenter retailers.

Aligned dealer Deb Degraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors in Grand Rapids, Mich., said Forever Clean answered the call she helped make over the years as a member of Mohawk’s advisory council. “We used to always talk to [Mohawk president] Brian Carson about it, and I said, ‘If you ever come up with something that will allow [consumers to] beat up on SmartStrand and not soak right through to the backing, you’ll have a game changer.’ So we are really excited about it. That’s always been one of my concerns; it won’t stain, but it’s still difficult to clean up for consumers. Now it beads up; you can take a paper towel and dab it. I think they’re going to give the competition a run for their money.”

Gary Cissell, president of Mill Creek Carpet with multiple locations throughout Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, was equally excited, saying Forever Clean will be responsible for a new buzz in the flooring industry. “It’s fantastic. Every so often you have to [generate] a buzz to get sales teams excited and I think this product will do that. We’re probably going to position it based on the fact that you get style that goes along with its durability and cleanability.”

According to Mohawk, the goal is for SmartStand to be the most appealing, high performing product for consumers, making it the top selection for salespeople on the showroom floor. “It’s about engagement for our own salespeople and keeping a product like residential carpet exciting,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential. “We believe in innovation—innovative product and innovative marketing. We still believe SmartStrand is poised to grow two to three times the industry average because we continue to provide more innovative and compelling product to consumers. Ninety percent of retailers are selling SmartStrand and our goal is to make sure it becomes a more compelling part of all retailers’ stocking strategies and more of a go-to product for RSAs in their daily sales routine.”

While SmartStrand Forever Clean was obviously the big story at Solutions, the marketing that goes along with it was also a hit with aligned dealers, specifically Mohawk’s new partnership with Tough Mudder (FCNews, Dec. 8/15). “The toughest event on the planet is partnering with the toughest, easiest to clean carpet on the planet,” said David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing. “We’re Mohawk, so we can’t just talk about it—we have to prove it. We needed a challenge so intense it defies all conventional thinking about cleanability. SmartStrand was the best carpet ever invented; SmartStrand Forever Clean is the best carpet ever invented again.”

In addition to SmartStrand Forever Clean, 10 new SmartStrand Ultra—now SmartStrand Ultra Forever Clean—products were released at convention, all offering two weights of good/better/best and texture. These products come along with the new Mohawk Edge display, offering high performance with a low cost and small footprint, and the new Color Wall to help display the latest SmartStrand products with pieces that are easily changed as more updates become available over time.

Retailers who have had success with SmartStrand over the years are ready to embrace the product updates. Lou Morano, owner of Capitol Carpet, with four locations throughout Palm Beach, Fla., has remained committed to SmartStrand over the years, particularly because his staff has faith in the product. “Salespeople like [SmartStrand] because they really believe in it. We’ve been selling it for five years with no claims. They bring it to people and say, ‘This is the best thing in the universe.’”

Mohawk also refreshed its soft polyester and nylon offerings in EverStand Soft Appeal and Wear-Dated Soft Touch, respectively. The goal with the array of new EverStand products is to target trade-up customers, driving higher-level looks that hit the $15 mark at retail. “There is an opportunity to increase retailers’ margins, but what we’ve been seeing is a race to the bottom,” said Seth Arnold, Mohawk’s director of brand. “What we’re trying to do within polyester is provide products that really serve to get that value-conscious customer that comes in to upgrade into something that helps restore the average ticket price. If our dealers are going to compete in that value-range category, we want them to compete at the top end of that. The way we’re doing that is through color and style.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.30.39 AMNew selections from Wear-Dated Soft Touch are being dubbed the “carpet man’s carpet,” using “Cadillac parts in a Chevy,” according to Arnold, as Mohawk has integrated yarn typically used in Karastan-type products into the nylon collection. “We’ve developed a product that we know is going to be soft enough and will bring maximum durability. It’s that dense, plush, thick nylon. We’re going back to our roots, so to speak. It plays really well between polyester and Silk. We know from feedback that this really hits a sweet spot our retailers have been missing in nylon.” The collection will feature 29 new styles.

The aforementioned Karastan brand has been updated to continue the “renaissance” it began last year, to which it has received “terrific response,” said Bill Storey, senior vice president of Karastan. “Pattern is really selling well, and I think part of that is with hard surface growing so fast, consumers are willing to try something unique and different. In the past you would have a solid color throughout the whole house, but now carpet is relegated to certain areas of the house, so consumers are willing to be more adventurous. Also, I think patterns will bring younger people into our brand, which is what we need to do.”

New styles from Karastan have been unveiled in SmartStrand Silk, Kashmere Nylon and wool.

Additionally, the Aladdin Commercial brand has been completely rejuvinated with new styling that allows for coordination across all of its broadloom, modular tile and LVT offerings. The goal for the brand is to offer products that can be used in all commercial environments.

Hard surface refresh

The big story on the hard surface side for 2015 is the extension of Mohawk’s proprietary Armormax finish from hardwood to two new laminate collections: Cottage Villa and Rustic Legacy. Both are offered in the colors, designs and finishes that have been successful in hardwood, with rich character and fashion-forward color palettes featuring grays and browns, along with wider widths and longer planks. “Rustic is showing no signs of going away,” said Roger Farabee, senior vice president, Mohawk Hard Surfaces. “I think because laminate is a lower risk product in the sense that it’s less expensive to install, and it’s easier to remove and replace if you make a mistake, people are willing to take more chances.”

In hardwood, two ½-inch engineered products were unveiled: Sandridge and Northfield. Sandridge is offered in multi-width—4, 6 and 8 inches—while Northfield is 7 inches wide. “We’re very excited to be able to do longer, wider products with enhanced character along with Armormax and Scotchgard protection, and manufacture them in the U.S.,” Farabee said. “That’s a big achievement we’ve been working on for a long time.”

On the subject of longevity, Mohawk also expanded its Brandisi hardwood collection, which was the first major scraped product in the market that Mohawk pioneered 10 years ago. In fact, More than 50 million square feet have been installed in the last decade. For 2015 the color palette has been updated with more fashionable options.

In porcelain, the story continues to be the expansion of Mohawk’s Reveal Imaging technology. Intros for 2015 include Travata, which features limestone looks with “tremendous variation” from piece to piece, and Volturno, an update to the company’s successful slate looks with random, multicolor visuals.

No new luxury vinyl flooring products were introduced, but new lines will roll out in the beginning of 2015 once Mohawk’s Belgium manufacturing facility is completed and fully functional.


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Mohawk partners with Tough Mudder

Photo by Ronda Churchill www.rondachurchill.comIn the spirit of the groundbreaking marketing efforts that have become a Mohawk hallmark, particularly for new products, the company has partnered with the Tough Mudder challenge, which includes as many as 12 miles of obstacles over a muddy, rugged terrain at different locales held nationally throughout the year.

Mohawk had a strong presence at the recent World’s Toughest Mudder challenge, held in Las Vegas last month. This particular challenge culminates the yearlong Tough Mudder series with a 100-mile course completed over two days. Participants have 24 hours to complete as many laps on the course as possible. Toughest Mudder awards are given to one man, one woman and one team. Featured on the Las Vegas course were two pieces of SmartStrand Forever Clean—one where the participants camped for the night and the other at the end of Mud Mile, the muddiest portion of the challenge—with the Tough Mudder logo, proving the product’s durability and resistance to dirt and wear. The 12 x 20 piece on the Mud Mile was brought to Solutions with a steam-cleaned X celebrating SmartStrand’s 10th anniversary and serving as proof that Forever Clean is, in fact, the “toughest, easiest to clean carpet on the planet.”

To continue the branding message, Mohawk will participate in additional Tough Mudder events throughout the year. “It feels good to ‘come clean’ about carpet cleanability,” said David Duncan, Mohawk’s senior vice president of marketing and sales operations. “The easy connection with us and Tough Mudder is certainly the product and the challenge, but the other thing we love is the experiences of the people who participate. By partnering with Tough Mudder we have the opportunity to promote our brand and our product on the obstacle course. We will share the results in videos and social media posts that our Aligned retailers can use as well. In addition, we offer Aligned retailers event kits with everything they need to hold events in their local markets and at their stores.”

Will Dean, CEO of Tough Mudder, agreed that the partnership with Mohawk is valuable and helps in community efforts for both organizations. “I’ve been informed that despite our best efforts to destroy this material and get it covered in mud in a way that would make my mother’s hair turn gray, we’re going to be able to clean it,” Dean said. “The [Mohawk] team has been awesome to work with. We’re excited about it; we’re building community. It’s very important to me as we build this company that we have fun along the way, and we remember why we’re doing it. I’m thrilled to be working with these guys because they embody everything that we think of as being part of the spirit of Tough Mudder”

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Mohawk takes SmartStrand to the next level with Forever Clean

Forever Clean is next generation of triexta

By Jenna Lippin

Photo by Ronda Churchill www.rondachurchill.comOrlando—How do you make a great product even better? In the case of Mohawk’s revolutionary SmartStrand carpet, the answer is responding to consumers’ greatest needs by exponentially increasing the product’s performance attributes.

According to Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential, SmartStrand has been the largest initiative in the 136-year history of Mohawk since the product’s launch 10 years ago. “But it’s not only about history; it’s about what we are doing next. SmartStrand represents a decade of innovation, and it’s about to get a whole lot better. Innovators look to where they can go.”

Launched in 2005, SmartStrand is made of triexta, which was the first newly classified fiber by the FCC in over 50 years. Two years later, SmartStrand became the carpet industry’s first bio-based product. Most recently, SmartStrand Silk, unveiled in 2012, set the standard in premium soft carpet. More than 7 million homes have been installed with SmartStrand in the past decade.

So, where does Mohawk go with SmartStrand, or, as Lape put it, “How do you make the best carpet on the planet even better?” Answer: “You make it easier to clean, easier to maintain and easier to enjoy.”

As such, on Dec. 5 Mohawk took the wraps off SmartStrand Forever Clean at its annual Solutions convention for aligned dealers here. Forever Clean is billed as the “toughest, easiest to clean carpet on the planet.” And, to prove that statement, the company is partnering with the Tough Mudder competition (see sidebar), the latest in a long line of creative marketing campaigns—Ricko the Rhino, License to Spill and SmartStrand Unleashed are some of Mohawk’s challenges that have put SmartStrand to the test.

The new secret sauce within Forever Clean is Nanoloc technology, the latest proprietary stain-fighting innovation from Mohawk, which adds a layer of protection to “lock out” spills and increase cleanability. “We worked on [Nanoloc] for several years to make it compatible with triexta, and we now have developed it to the point that with both permanency and effectiveness, we have a protection system that is literally unparalleled,” Lape said.

Because SmartStrand, or triexta, inherently has permanent, built-in protection, Mohawk has taken safeguard to another level with Nanoloc, making SmartStrand Forever Clean both stain resistant and easier to maintain. “With carpet today, maintenance is one of the biggest challenges the industry has residentially, so we [want to] make it easier for the consumer to clean and maintain her product,” Lape added. “Lower impact maintenance is the goal we have for next generation.”

In testing the Nanoloc technology with regular vacuuming and standardized soil, it was found that carpet with the protective treatment will release up to three times more soil than with a standard nylon or polyester product. When steam cleaned, triexta with Nanoloc exhibited the highest rates Mohawk has had in terms of efficacy rates, Lape said.

“We’ve tried to come up with a protection system using nano-based technology, and the whole point is that we want something that is not only going to give the benefit of repellency but long-term repellence, ease of maintenance and, most important, the improvement on soil release, which is the biggest breakthrough we’ve had with Nanoloc.”

Mohawk chemical engineer Jim Williams helped develop the breakthrough technology. He explained how triexta has low surface energy, meaning “it doesn’t like to have stuff stick to it, so we had to work really hard to come up with the right material we could put on SmartStrand. The particular material that we’ve used to coat the fiber is very durable, but, more importantly, it is flexible; it moves with the fiber. It isn’t a hard protectant, which oftentimes with foot traffic or heavier use will chip off into particles and go away. [Nanoloc] is the next-generation chemistry around protecting carpet fiber.”

David Duncan, senior vice president of marketing and sales operations, explained the new technology as providing two lines of defense: surface cleanability and core protection. According to Duncan, Photo by Ronda Churchillwww.rondachurchill.comMohawk has solved both problems with SmartStrand Forever Clean.

“The first line of defense is if I spill something, can I clean it up quickly? Typically if you buy a carpet treated with topical stain protection, you’ve got a good line of defense at first. But over time, what happens to the first line of defense? It starts to wear down. Then you’re left with the second line of defense, that core protection, which is really what SmartStrand has always had in its DNA.”

To help demonstrate this to consumers, Mohawk has armed 400 of its sales representatives with Carpet Performance Simplified kits that will allow them to take the Forever Clean message to 12,000 customers. Each demo box will include red dye, carpet samples and jars of water and cleaning solution, exhibiting Forever Clean’s exceptional cleanability and stain and wear resistance.

The brand architecture with SmartStrand went from SmartStrand Silk at the top of the offerings, to SmartStrand Ultra, featuring an advanced warranty attribute, and SmartStrand, the base product. Going forward, the brands will be marketed to consumers as SmartStrand Silk Forever Clean, SmartSTrand Ultra Forever Clean and SmartStrand Forever Clean.

There is good reason for Mohawk to expand its SmartStrand brand. According to the company, 90% of its retail partners surveyed said they will sell more SmartStrand next year over this year. With consumers, 95% who have put SmartStrand in their homes are satisfied, which Lape noted is “astoundingly high. Nine out of 10 will purchase the product again. Why? Comfort underfoot, protection against spills and ease of maintenance.”

For Mohawk’s builder and multi-family line, the new product will be dubbed SmartStrand Nanolock, “our strategy and positioning is more technical for that side of the business,” Lape said.

Every SmartStrand carpet purchased today is now SmartStrand Forever Clean. Mohawk has transformed the collection and incorporated this new innovation in every square yard that is shipped, effective immediately. A point-of-sale kit will be sent to Aligned retailers immediately after Solutions so they can promote in-store that all SmartStrand products are now SmartStrand Forever Clean.

“We will have plenty of point-of-sale materials immediately,” Duncan noted. “All hands on deck, 100% total immersion.”