PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: CatSeat owes PR victory to De Niro

Eat your heart out Campbell's Soup. Effective product placement in TV or movies - especially when bolstered by smart PR - can come free.

Eat your heart out Campbell's Soup. Effective product placement in TV or movies - especially when bolstered by smart PR - can come free.

Eat your heart out Campbell's Soup. Effective product placement in TV or movies - especially when bolstered by smart PR - can come free.

Take the case of Norman, OK-based entrepreneur Kevin Rymer, who last year invented a special seat that teaches cats to use the human lavatory.

Soon after his dollars 99 'CatSeat,' hit the market, Rymer caught the trailer for Robert De Niro's new movie, Meet the Parents. In the film, De Niro's character discusses training his prized feline, Mr. Jinx, to use the toilet.

'De Niro was on the big screen doing a five minute commercial and demonstration for how it works,' said Rymer. 'People had been telling me I was crazy this whole time, and suddenly the idea got legitimacy.'

Recognizing an opportunity to capitalize on the serendipitous screen time, Rymer - a business novice with no experience of PR - cruised the Net in search of a PR firm to jump on this ready-made media hook. After a single meeting, Rymer employed St. Paul, MN-based Kohnstamm Communications.

Within two weeks - and before a press release had even been drafted - Josh Kohnstamm made one call to the Wall Street Journal that has since paid off in spades.

'I thought this would be a perfect item for the quirky Marketplace 'orphans' column,' explained Kohnstamm.

Within days of the resulting three-inch Journal story (which appeared on November 28), Rymer's seat has been featured on syndicated national radio show Paul Harvey, NPR and scores of local Oklahoma newscasts. People magazine and USA Today are also planning features. Perhaps more importantly, the tiny company, Feline Evolution (www.catseat.com), has received hundreds of product orders since the story appeared.

Kohnstamm said this week's events have restored his faith in the power of PR: 'This is truly an example of PR stripped down to its bare bones, and what you can achieve with it for next to nothing.'



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