Even though the high school principal, Dr. Gary Foote, owns a Bullfrog Spas tub, we’ve yet to see it.
It’s obvious that he’s a hot tub enthusiast. A jet decorates his desk. He offers students candy from a model spa as a candy dish. He drinks his coffee from a Bullfrog Spas mug. While surfing the Web, he often finds himself on the spa manufacturer’s site. And he protects his iPhone with a case with a Bullfrog logo. He’s also the president and sole member of the Association of Hot Tub Aficionados of Brookfield.
It’s all part of a 12-episode YouTube series the spa manufacturer created featuring the happenings of the Brookfield Bullfrogs. Each episode is about 5 minutes and gives the view a glimpse into Foote, a character reminiscent of The Office’s Michael Scott.
“Content marketing has become an important part of generating traffic in today’s world, and this fits into our overall content strategy,” said Jake Ricks, online marketing manager for the Salt Lake City-based manufacturer. “We wanted to do something that was branded, but branded entertainment. Something that could be accessible to a lot more people than, say, a hot tub commercial posted to YouTube.”
Getting people talking and thinking about hot tubs isn’t easy. Other discretionary big-ticket purchases lean on people’s interest in their hobbies. And if there ever was a hot tub hobbyist, Foote would be it. While Bullfrog definitely is present in the series, it isn’t about the product. It’s about the principal, who happens to own a spa. Who happens to be a hobbyist.
“Why do we feel like we need to be subtle?" asks Dan Sjoblom, director of marketing. “It has to do with gaining the trust of the audience. So really, one objective is to entertain you with a show you really like, and then our additional objective is to make sure that you’re familiar with our brand. We take that trust really seriously.”
So, other than the enjoyment of the story arc, what does the viewer get out of this series? Well, in conjunction with it, Bullfrog is running a promotion to give away a spa.
As of mid-December, the series has more than 75,000 views and close to 2,500 subscribers. “If you were to pay for those same numbers in any other traditional media, it would be pretty expensive,” Ricks said. “I feel like the nice thing about online content, especially digital video, is that it lives online indefinitely. So, you can continue to get in front of new people for a long period of time.”
To promote it, the series has its own website, Twitter and Facebook page. The actors in the series also are social media stars with their own audiences and followers.