Everyone in the industry already knew that Rheem had been a trusted leader in the water heating space for nearly 100 years. They thought it was time the public knew it, too. So they came to Goods & Services to help them spread the word.
“To drive awareness and make Rheem top of mind when it came to water heaters, the Goods team needed to flex its strategy and storytelling muscles.”
The best kind of home appliance is the one you never have to think about. The one that just keep on doing its thing, chugging along year after year after year. Which, in an ironic twist, means that if the company making that appliance does its job right, you may never even know their name.
Such was the case with Rheem. The Atlanta-based company has been a leader in the water heating and air conditioning business for more than 100 years, consistently outperforming the competition with trusted and reliable high quality products. And while most lay folk might not be familiar with the name, contractors, plumbers, and others players in the trade were well aware that Rheem was one of the top go to brands in the space.
But then COVID hit, and everyone began spending more time at home and the use of hot water increased in households around the world. The once anonymous water heater started to get more and more attention as perhaps the most important appliance in the house, silently powering millions of homes behind the scenes. Which meant hot water prices started going up and emerging companies like GE and LG saw an opportunity to seriously compete in the water heater market.
So Rheem decided it was time to turn up the heat, so to speak, and came to Goods & Services to help them create their first consumer facing ad campaign in more than 50 years.
Anchored by creative lead, Jason Nitti, the Goods team embarked on a multi-pronged approach to what Nitti calls the “closest thing to traditional advertising campaign we’ve ever worked on.”
The challenge: to develop an attention grabbing campaign that educated and entertained new and potential consumers about Rheem’s high quality products without alienating the existing trade audience. To drive awareness and make Rheem top of mind when it came to water heaters, Nitti says, the Goods team needed to “flex its strategy and storytelling muscles.”
For Rheem, the story we wanted to focus on was threefold: First, we wanted to leverage the company’s 100 year history and heritage of quality and reliability. Next it was important to reinforce the idea that, whether people were aware of it or not, the water heater was vital to the lives of every family in the country, large or small, on a daily basis. And, finally, we needed a narrative construct that was interesting and relatable to today’s consumer.
So how do you make the unassuming water heater interesting and relatable? Working around the slogan “Comfort you can count on (since 1925)”, we developed a narrative that featured a very modern, multigenerational, mixed race family to help tell the story of how frequently, and in how many different ways, people use and enjoy hot water.
“We really wanted to create a scenario where Rheem became a comforting presence in a family’s life, where family life and culture could be the hero. Almost like the water heater was a character in their story, even a member of their family.”
“We wanted to borrow on the success of a few popular media trends,” Said Alexa Dziak, Goods & Services’ client partner. “The first was the acclaimed hit show Modern Family,” that uses humorous, one-on-one, documentary style filmmaking to highlight the lives of a non traditional family. The second was an emerging narrative devise that established a light hearted and irreverent tone about something that hadn’t been thought of that way before. Think Progressive Insurance’s ads featuring Flo, the bubbly sales rep and her squad of scrappy colleagues.
Through a handful of short video ads that we wrote, shot, directed, and produced all in house, the Goods team created an episodic, sitcom style campaign featuring the Robinsons, that shared snippets of normal everyday experiences of five members of a diverse family and how differently they used hot water.
In one spot a teenage boy washes his cool Nike tennis shoes in the sink so they are gleaming white. In another a little girl digs up bugs in the garden as her dad and brother complain how dirty she is. In yet another, the dad (wearing his daughter’s makeup) and mother explain the need for constant cleaning around the house. In others, (12 all told) each family member indulges in comforting daily household activities like washing the dishes, shaving, doing laundry, and taking a bath.
Once we had a winning creative campaign that Rheem was excited about, it was vital to strategically target a wide array of traditional and emerging media outlets to get as much play as possible. That included cable networks with appropriate home improvement and DIY content like Discovery, HGTV, and Magnolia, as well as Science, Food and Travel.
The ads also run on streaming channels including Hulu, Roku, Sling TV, and others, as well as on the streaming feed of “This Old House,” and on the web feeds of networks like AMC, CBS, NBC, Bravo, and USA, among others. Additionally, digital display ads, including GIF banners, and social media platforms run on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“We wanted to make sure that the spots we created echoed, and were relevant to, the content on the channels they lived on.”
The benefits of creating a family tie in were abundant. Because each video focused primarily on one member of the Robinsons, it gave us five very different interesting character paths to explore, all with their own evolving lives and personalities, that were rich for social media content. You could follow the daughter’s ever changing passions for years to come.
The episodic nature of the spots also allowed us an element of longevity and durability. If we were asked to do another campaign, we could always check in with the Robinsons to see how they were getting on in life. After all, no matter how old you are, you always need a dependable water heater.