JWT Juggles Orkin’s Strategies

J. Walter Thompson released its latest work for Orkin’s pest control services last week with three strategically different television commercials.

The budget for the national campaign, which in-cludes cable, spot network and radio buys, is $16 million.

According to JWT creative di-rector Scott Nelson, who also wrote the spots, the effort reflects new initiatives for the Atlanta-based exterminator. The ads are intended to make consumers think of the Orkin Man as part of their communities, Nelson said, and leverage the company’s global-positioning system technology.

At the same time, the Atlanta agency will continue its 3-year-old “Fake-out” campaign, in which cockroaches appear to move across viewers’ TV screens.

Because the category is overrun with mom-and-pop operators perceived by consumers as more likeable and approachable than large companies, JWT needed to create a technician that could compete emotionally.

“We made the Orkin Man a neighbor, like the doctor next door who’s always getting asked health questions,” said Nelson.

In “Local Expert,” directed by Skip D’Amico of Artist Co. in Los Angeles, the Orkin Man is shown in a community setting answering questions. Slice-of-life scenes in-clude the exterminator getting a haircut, singing in a church choir and coaching a Little League team.

For “GPS,” JWT shifted to dramatic footage of an Orkin truck driving to a customer’s home, with intermittent cuts to the vehicle’s navigation system. Actor Timothy Dalton provides sophisticated narration. David Dryer of Sun Spot Productions in Los Angeles directed.

The new fake-out spot, shot by Dryer, is “Herbal Paradise.” Nelson and art director Jaime Sherman set up a clichéd scenario targeting suburban housewives. A spoof of Calgon’s “Take Me Away” spots, the commercial shows a woman relaxing in her bath. In the background, a waterfall completes the fantasy. When the roach appears, Orkin Man comes to the rescue.

According to JWT management director Mark Simonton, leads generated by the fake-out series are up 15 to 20 percent this year.

“Orkin’s life blood is leads, calls to the branches,” Simonton said. “The more calls, the more money.”

Orkin Exterminating Co. is a sub-sidiary of Rollins Inc. in Atlanta.