SR Panel: Bold Ideas

A panelist shares two crazy marketing schemes from the past

Brian Quint
Aqua Quip
president and CEO
Nine in Seattle/Tacoma metro

Hot Tub TV
There was a time where anybody with any viable business plan could get a half-hour show on public-access television.

I remember two ladies who did an edgy show called “Hot Tub TV” for one half-hour a month, where they would interview guests while they were all in a hot tub in bathing suits. When their hot tub broke, they approached one of our stores. We went out there and met the women, and they talked us into trying it.

The hot tub we let them use said “Hot tub courtesy of Aqua Quip” on it, so it was good publicity — and at the end of the show, we were listed in the credits.

- Sponsor -

I had some people press me on how we could get involved with such a risqué show. My response? Any publicity is good publicity. As long as it doesn’t damage your reputation or the image you build, there’s nothing too outlandish. You don’t necessarily know how it will play out.

Arena Hot Tub
We also aligned with the Seattle Thunderbirds, a major junior ice hockey team. We would pay for advertising in the stadium and in the arena. Once a month, we would take a 110 plug-in hot tub to the arena, and they would have a contest to see who would get to sit in the hot tub during the game. They put the hot tub against the glass at ice level. In theory, the hockey players are coming up and banging on the glass as part of the game, and these people were right there behind the glass. We’d get a bunch of signage and some publicity on the play-by-play, but that was limited because it wasn’t NHL.

If “Hot Tub TV” was edgy, this was edgier. I think back about my liability, there was probably exposure. Two or four people would sit in the hot tub the whole game and drink. It was a fun promotion and we got free tickets to some games. And anybody at the game clearly saw the Aqua Quip hot tub at ice level. We stopped doing it when someone stood up, pulled his bathing suit down and put his cheeks against the glass.

They say 50 percent of your advertising money is wasted — you just don’t know which 50 percent. In a situation like this, how do you lose? How do you lose having enthusiastic people in a fun, family environment, and sticking a hot tub in the middle of that?

It’s about the buzz, the publicity, and getting your name out there. In these two cases, we found creative ways to get our name and our category in front of people who otherwise wouldn’t get any exposure to us.