Each year, Americans spend $2.5 billion repairing damage caused by termites. The bugs pose a problem in every state except Alaska, and getting rid of them can be cumbersome - and confusing - for homeowners.In response, BASF Professional Pest Control, manufacturers of Termidor Termite Protection, a liquid pesticide available only to pest-management pros, commissioned FCF Schmidt to devise a fun and informative campaign centered on termites and termite control.
Karl Kisner, senior marketing manager of BASF, says the firm was searching for "something new and different." As such, he accepted the proposition of Maribeth Roman Schmidt, president of FCF, which handles all consumer and trade PR for BASF, to unleash a mobile campaign that would attract media attention and increase the market for the pest-control industry.
FCF recognized that local and national media coverage about termites, the damage they cause, and effective treatment methods would lead to an increased demand for professional pest-management services and, thus, usage of Termidor.
"We just wanted to do it up in a big way," says Kat McAndrew, senior account executive at FCF. "We wanted something that was going to make the media stop, stare, be amazed at the creativity, and really pay attention to the whole issue."
FCF decided that mobile marketing should be a key component in its strategy. The agency teamed up with Pro Motion, a firm that specializes in mobile marketing, to create a termite exhibit that possessed all the features of an interactive museum. The inflatable termite was 2.5 stories high and 60 feet long, and was to serve as a means of educating children about the pests, reaching their parents, the people who hire pest-control pros, and raising awareness of Termidor. BASF also wanted to alter the negative perception of pest-control pros and emphasize the scientific aspect of their work.
Between January and July, the Towering Termite Tour visited 21 cities in 15 states - including Jacksonville, FL, St. Louis, Houston, Jersey City, NJ, and LA - racking up more than 8,000 miles, and visiting zoos, science centers, and children's museums. Within the structure's "belly," parents and children could play games and visit exhibits, such as one in which visitors could witness a termite colony feeding on a paper house. Admission to the Towering Termite Tour was included in each venue's fee.
FCF also worked with the governments of the cities and states in which the tour stopped to garner Termite Awareness Week/Month proclamations from the governors and mayors in seven markets, including Alabama, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
To attract the media, FCF gave out fact sheets, b-roll, artwork, and press kits. The agency then followed up with the outlets to ensure coverage. It also asked pest-control professionals to serve as media experts for interviews, and agency staff took part in interviews on behalf of BASF, as well.
More than 19,000 visitors attended the tour during its run. The agency was able to secure 66 million consumer print impressions, including in The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Scholastic News for Kids. The team also was able to pin down 10 million impressions on television.
But most important, Kisner says, as a result of the program, sales of Termidor have increased for this year.
FCF and BASF are currently planning a Towering Termite Tour for next year.
"In 2004, we far exceeded our expectations for these objectives," says Kisner. "We aim to capitalize on this momentum in the coming year."
PR team: BASF Professional Pest Control North America (Research Triangle Park, NC), FCF Schmidt PR (Plymouth Meeting, PA), and Pro Motion (St. Louis)
Campaign: Towering Termite Tour
Time frame: January to July 2004