CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - In-Sink fights septic skeptics

Client: In-Sink-Erator

Client: In-Sink-Erator

Client: In-Sink-Erator

PR Team: Marketing Support Campaign: Septic disposer product


Time Frame: 1997 to the present

Budget: dollars 50,000 to dollars 100,000

Rumor: If you have a septic system - as 27 million Americans do - you

can’t have a garbage disposal.

Fact: That’s not true.

But try convincing consumers (and some contractors) otherwise. In 1997,

In- Sink-Erator of Racine, WI, decided it would fight the septic

skeptics and introduce the Septic Disposer, a system with a replaceable

enzyme cartridge to break down food.

In-Sink-Erator asked its longtime PR, advertising and packaging firm,

Marketing Support Inc. (MSI) of Chicago, to introduce the product and

market it to septic owners who don’t have disposals.


Marketing Support decided to focus on education - first with plumbing

contractors, since the product was initially available only through


’The message to the trade side was there’s this whole new market of

opportunity for you,’’ says MSI account supervisor Arla Medvin.

’Disposers have been around since 1927, but there hasn’t been anything

new in the category for 40 years. Fifty percent of homes have a

disposer, but the percentage is lower for homes with septic systems,

only 22%.’

After the company and agency had the contractors on board, they planned

to focus on trade publications, then the mass media.


MSI started with a direct-mail appeal to plumbing wholesalers. The

mailing featured a marketing kit, which included counter displays. After

that initial contact, in the fall of 1997, MSI met with media at

plumbing trade shows for wholesalers and contractors, providing

one-on-one product demonstrations.

Meanwhile, it sent a newsletter called The Septic Line to 40,000

plumbing contractors.

Then MSI began pitching the retail side. During a media tour of New

York, it met with everyone from Country Living to Popular Mechanics,

bringing along the product for demonstrations and getting a number of

placements and color photos - often in the publications’ ’what’s new’’


The week before Thanksgiving, MSI also went after radio coverage in

rural markets where septic use is higher and news is slower. The theme:

Here’s how to get rid of holiday food scraps.

At the International Builders’ Show in January 1998, MSI focused its

message on reducing the amount of garbage in the home and handed out a

gift - a little trash can with an accordion-style folded message inside:

’Taking out the garbage will never be the same for the 27 million

homeowners on septic systems.’’ The firm continued to pitch the Septic

Disposer to media covering home remodeling.


MSI estimates that mentions in print publications - from the Chicago

Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer to Kitchen and Bath Business magazine

- reached more than 60 million readers and were worth an estimated

dollars 435,000. The radio spots in rural markets reached an additional

853,000 people, MSI figures. In May 1999, Medvin won a Silver Trumpet

award from the Publicity Club of Chicago for her efforts.

As for its sales, In-Sink-Erator says business is up 42% this year. ’We

got press in all the trades, but we received a tremendous amount of

consumer press,’ says Dave MacNair, VP of marketing.


Marketing Support has recommended that In-Sink-Erator concentrate on

home-remodeling shows over the next five years, with the focus on the

top 50 septic markets. (Yes, someone has compiled a list of the regions

with the most septic systems in use.)

’When I tell people what I do, I sometimes laugh a little bit,’’ Medvin

says. ’Garbage disposals? But, you know, it’s a necessary part of life.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in