Newel Rubbermaid/IRWIN: Building a National CSR Movement

The Client’s Goal

IRWIN Tools, part of Newell Rubbermaid’s global portfolio of leading brands, manufactures a broad line of hand tools and power tool accessories under the IRWIN® brand, targeting professional tradesmen.
While evaluating category dynamics with the client, JDPR identified that the number of America’s tradesmen was in steep decline: for every 3 tradesmen who were retiring or leaving the ‘skilled trades,’ only one ‘pair of work boots’ was entering the marketplace. For America, this was a dire trend. Who would build our homes, maintain our factories and fix our cars? For IRWIN Tools, this trend spelled doom, as fewer skilled professionals would be buying the company’s products. At the heart of the dilemma was a perception that working in the skilled trades — as a carpenter, welder, electrician or plumber — was not honorific work, nor did it afford a pathway to the American dream. JDPR developed the concept of National Tradesmen Day — reoccurring the 3rd Friday of each September — as a way for IRWIN Tools to lift up and say “thank you” to those who build America by the sweat of their brow. More than a ‘Hallmark card day,’ however, National Tradesmen Day become a focal point and rallying cry for year-round awareness of and appreciation for the role of America’s tradesmen in keeping our country strong.


  • To position IRWIN Tools as the tool brand that says “thank you” to America’s tradesmen for keeping America running strong, thereby instilling the IRWIN brand-name into the minds of tradesmen as a tool brand that recognizes and appreciates their skill and craftsmanship.
  • To communicate the brand’s commitment to responsible corporate citizenship by raising awareness about key issues affecting the plight of the modern-day tradesman.
  • To start a national conversation about the honor of working with one’s hands and to inspire a call to action to restore respect to skilled labor.
  • To strengthen relationships with key retail-partners, garnering favorable in-store product placement and, subsequently, increased sales.


  • JDPR worked with national-level education, business and finance media in telling the story of National Tradesmen Day, highlighting the “skills gap” between available jobs and lack of needed skills among the unemployed.
  • The campaign included exposure for IRWIN’s executive leadership team, highlighted by ringing the Opening Bell on the New York Stock Exchange and an NYC media tour.
  • A nationwide radio media tour in which IRWIN executives were booked for back-to-back radio interviews to discuss National Tradesmen Day, and a “Dear Abby” devoting her national column to the importance of America’s tradesmen and IRWIN’s initiatives.

The Impact

  • 700 million total general impressions.
  • Key media placements across targeted trade journals, national business and finance media, and national consumer media.
  • Established IRWIN Tools as the tool brand that says ‘thanks’ to America’s tradesmen.
  • National Tradesmen Day was made an official day of recognition by lawmakers in multiple states and cities across America, with appropriate recognition for IRWIN Tools.
  • Sales increases with participating retailers, averaging 22-40%, stemming from end-cap store displays, showcasing IRWIN products in context of National Tradesmen Day.
  • Employee morale soared as hundreds of letters poured in, thanking IRWIN for its support of tradesmen.