Roto-Rooter Cashing In On "Joe the Plumber" Frenzy

Marketers are trying to cash in on the “Joe the Plumber” media frenzy. Roto-Rooter, the nation’s largest plumbing service company, and the one with the catchiest jingle, almost decided to pay for whatever schooling/testing Joe needed to become a certified plumber, but they might not need the real Joe, er, Sam, to make a marketing impact. News outlets have been calling Roto-Rooter to see if the company has a local Joe the Plumber for them to interview. Just the latest way “Joe the Plumber,” who’s neither really named “Joe” nor a licensed plumber, has ruined the lives of plumbers named Joe throughout the country.

Ad Age: When John McCain rattled off the name “Joe the Plumber” some 20 times during his final debate with Barack Obama earlier this week, he set off more than a media frenzy. Marketing types, too, started pondering the possibilities of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who as it turns out isn’t actually a certified plumber.

Nick Ragone, who runs Ketchum’s Disruptive Media Team — which was responsible for the Dr Pepper/Axl Rose challenge back in March — said that after the fifth time Mr. McCain mentioned Joe the Plumber, his team began instant-messaging and e-mailing one another trying to figure out a way to “do something creative and disruptive around it in a way to benefit one of our clients.”

The idea they settled on and eventually took to client Roto-Rooter was to have the company issue a release saying it would pay for whatever schooling/testing Joe needed to become a certified plumber…

But Roto, as of [Friday] afternoon, decided against initiating the program only for the fact that it was already piling up the media impressions without even trying. Paul Abrams, PR manager for Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Service, said he would consider the Ketchum program if the story still had legs come next week but told the agency he was currently swimming in media requests and coverage…

Roto-Rooter has 113 company-owned locations and over 500 independent franchises and over 4,500 plumbers throughout the country. Media outlets have been calling to see if the company has plumbers named Joe in their region in hopes of localizing the story. Mr. Abrams said the company has gotten several million media impressions to this point including mentions, interviews with employees or footage of employees in outlets like CNN, Headline News, The Denver Post and Fox affiliates in Nashville and Seattle.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.