The “Dirty Jobs” series on the Discovery Channel has inspired a line of cleaning products, which will be promoted through TV commercials and other platforms.
The New York Times
By STUART ELLIOTT
Published: April 9, 2012
UPDATE: May 30, 2012
FOR decades, fans have been able to buy merchandise, like T-shirts and coffee mugs, inspired by their favorite television shows. Now, a show has produced products meant to be practical.
“Dirty Jobs,” on the Discovery Channel cable network, is the inspiration for a line of cleaning products, also named Dirty Jobs, that includes a stain remover, carpet cleaners and hand sanitizers. “Get tough on your dirtiest jobs,” the package labels urge.
The products are being marketed by a new company, My Dirty Jobs, that is licensing the “Dirty Jobs” name from the Discovery Channel parent, Discovery Communications. Mike Rowe, the host of “Dirty Jobs,” is involved, too, taking part through his company, MRW Holdings.
The cleaning products are being promoted through a campaign with a budget estimated at $20 million to $25 million. The campaign includes, in addition to a Web site, buydirtyjobs.com, direct response television commercials on cable networks like A&E, Discovery Channel, Hallmark Channel and Travel Channel; video clips in Walmart stores, the My Dirty Jobs retail partner; online ads; a presence in social media like Facebook and Twitter; and public relations.
Mr. Rowe is featured in the campaign, along with Niecy Nash, the star of cable series like “Clean House” on Style Network. Mr. Rowe adds Dirty Jobs to a list of brands he pitches that also includes Caterpillar, Ford, Lee jeans and and Viva paper towels.
The commercials for the Dirty Jobs line are being created internally at My Dirty Jobs. The Web ads are being handled by Ignite Media Solutions and the public relations duties by Trent & Company.
The co-founders of My Dirty Jobs — Adam Lerner, president, and Christian Darby, executive vice president for product marketing — have experience in the realm of direct response sales for companies like Ronco.
“Direct response is about advertising the brand and building awareness,” Mr. Lerner said, “and there’s the benefit of selling some product directly to consumers.”
“We plan to touch the customer in every way the customer can be reached,” he added, citing examples like Facebook, where Walmart has 15.9 million likes and “Dirty Jobs” with Mr. Rowe has more than 2.2 million.
Mr. Rowe said endorsing a line of cleaning products named after his series “wasn’t something I was affirmatively considering” before being approached by the executives behind My Dirty Jobs.
Although “my honest feeling is that I don’t know how much permission I have to do this” from consumers, Mr. Rowe said, “somewhere in this weird nexus of social media, brand ubiquity and five minutes of fame, people are still looking for something that feels authentic.”
From that came a concept for the Dirty Jobs products that “dirt is not the enemy,” Mr. Rowe said, but rather that “dirt is good.”
That sentiment is expressed in the videos that play at the checkouts in Walmart stores, in which Mr. Rowe jokes about how “I can finally say I’ve gotten filthy in all 50 states.”
Mr. Rowe extols the Dirty Jobs products as “not just for people who get dirty, but for people who have to clean up after the people who get dirty.”
In a commercial with Ms. Nash, she refers to “Mr. ‘Dirty Jobs’ himself, Mike Rowe” in praising the Dirty Jobs stain remover.
Ms. Nash said Dirty Jobs represents her first product endorsement. Before agreeing, “I had to really give it the smell test and use it,” she added, laughing, “and by that I mean force my children.”
Ms. Nash called her endorsement “a good fit” because “I am a mom, I am hands-on.”
As for whether she is interested in additional endorsements, Ms. Nash said it would depend on the product. After a reporter listed the other brands endorsed by Mr. Rowe like Ford, Lee and Caterpillar, she said: “I can drive. I can wear jeans. You lost me at the tractor.” The decision by Discovery Communications to license the “Dirty Jobs” name for the cleaning products is the first such license in that category, said Elizabeth Bakacs, vice president for licensing at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Md.
It was important that Mr. Rowe be involved, she added, because “the best successes” in licensing “come when we partner with our talent.” She offered as an example “a ‘Cake Boss’ line of products with Buddy Valastro,” the dessert king in the series on the company’s TLC channel.
The deal with My Dirty Jobs is multiyear, Ms. Bakacs said, and “a traditional licensing agreement, licensing our mark.” She declined to discuss additional terms, as did Mr. Rowe.
Mr. Rowe said there was some initial discussion that the cleaning products would be sold under his name rather than the “Dirty Jobs” name. That did not proceed far because “part of me wanted to be a good scout and not do a big end-run” around Discovery, he said.
“I don’t want to be that guy,” he added.
Also, Mr. Rowe said, there is a value to the “Dirty Jobs” name. For one thing, “Discovery has probably spent $100 million in advertising and marketing support for the show,” he added, which should help generate awareness for the Dirty Jobs line.
Indeed, he said, people have told him, they feel as if the products have “been on the shelf for 20 years.”
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