Mr. Rooter: Whimsy Among Woes

Hadeler Sullivan & Law Has Fun in Serious National TV Push
DALLAS–Hadeler Sullivan & Law has released a new television campaign on behalf of Mr. Rooter, the second-largest plumbing service in the country.
Two whimsical TV commercials, in 10- and 30-second versions, show dire situations requiring a plumber. In the first spot, the family dog races to its favorite watering hole for a drink, only to recoil with a whimper at the toilet bowl’s contents. “Plumbing problems affect the whole family,” intones the voiceover.
The second animated spot shows fish swimming throughout a living room. “It’s not a good idea to wait too long to call a plumber,” warns the narrator.
The commercials began airing on national network and national cable in late September. According to the agency, the effort is the “most aggressive” campaign the plumbing franchise has undertaken. The size of the budget was not disclosed.
“Our challenge is to try to create some interest in a very low interest category,” said creative director Tom Marcantel at HS&L in Dallas.
The goal of these spots–the first TV package HS&L has created for the client–was to “make people feel good,” he said.
“It’s primarily women who call, and they want to have someone who is trustworthy, reputable and [who] generally [creates] a good feeling,” Marcantel said.
Media buys include slots around NYPD Blue, Entertainment To-night and Inside Edition, among other programs.
The television flight will air through March 2000. Direct mail and, later this year, radio, will round out the consumer effort. A business-to-business print series will target the restaurant, hotel and grocery store trade.
Both print and broadcast work feature the cartoon plumber that is the Mr. Rooter logo. Known as “Mr. Winky” within the agency, this “cool little guy . . . is clearly the glue of the entire campaign,” said HS&L principal Gordon Law.
Established in 1968, Mr. Rooter began national franchising operations in 1974.
The Waco, Texas, company is a division of The Dwyer Group, a publically traded conglomerate of service-based franchises. Mr. Rooter also has offices in Canada, Chile, England and Mexico.