The Roto-Rooter brand is reaching a more diverse group of TV viewers these days, but not through traditional television commercials. Instead, Roto-Rooter is taking part in a growing trend - product placement in television shows.
Roto-Rooter now has three of its service technicians participating in two cable TV series: SCI Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters," which completed its second season May 31, and "The Simple Life: 'til death do us part," on E! Entertainment Channel.
New episodes of The Simple Life, starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, premiered June 4. Thurston Limar, a technician from Roto-Rooter's Long Beach, Calif., franchise, has a recurring role in four episodes with original air dates of for June 11, June 25, July 23 and Aug. 6.
In the show, Roto-Rooter dispatches Limar to help Hilton out of a few plumbing jams as she struggles to master common household tasks. Limar, who is 6-ft. tall and weighs 300 lb., said he thinks his size is why producers asked him back.
"All of my scenes were with Paris and she's such a tiny girl, I could've put her in my pocket," Limar said.
Roto-Rooter sees TV brand placement as a good value compared with traditional television advertising, spokesman Paul Abrams said. The company spent most of its ad budget on other mediums in recent years and hasn't made a national TV buy since 2001.
"Technology has made it too easy to tune out traditional commercial messages but viewers can't miss our brand when we're part of the show's story line," said Steve Pollyea, Roto-Rooter's vice president/marketing.
Before its debut in 2004, Roto-Rooter said it had serious reservations about getting involved with "Ghost Hunters" because the firm feared it would be too controversial. Two Roto-Rooter plumbers from Providence, R.I., had signed a deal to do the show. Producers said they liked the fact that Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson were "regular Joes" with real day jobs and they wanted to show the pair on the job.
The ratings and feedback have been strong enough to convince the company to continue its involvement and to watch for similar projects that offer good value, Roto-Rooter said. The third season of "Ghost Hunters" premieres in September.
Roto-Rooter was established in 1935 and provides plumbing and drain-cleaning services in North America. It operates businesses in more than 100 company-owned territories and more than 500 franchise territories that cover about 90% of the U.S. population and 40% of the Canadian population. More information is available at www.rotorooter.com.