Who doesn’t love a clever product promotion, even (or maybe especially) the offbeat ones? Take the “Buy a truck, get a goat!” promotion by Mitsubishi Motors in New Zealand, aimed at the rural community. No word on whether it was successful in boosting sales of pickups, but it caused a buzz in 2009.

While pool and spa professionals might not have gone that far -- yet! -- they have come up with some imaginative promotional campaigns. Many companies have had success with cross-promotions, such as hot tub stores displaying motorcycles or deluxe TVs -- or pool builders teaming up with gyms.

Back in the 1970s, when spas were new, the industry wanted to get the word out. In Florida, for example, units were displayed in some unusual settings. One pool builder who had started installing spas wanted to reach more potential customers, including those in the exclusive “millionaires’ enclave” in Key Largo. So he held a swanky cocktail party at a private club, where he had set up some portable spas to hopefully generate interest. The invites went out and so many people showed up, some had to be turned away. Three sales were made that night, and more afterward, for a total of 14.

Other spa professionals tried displaying units at unrelated businesses. One placed a portable spa at the top of the “up” escalator in a department store, with two life-size female mannequins in swim suits lounging inside. Shoppers saw it immediately upon reaching the upper level and were quite taken with it. The dealer got 60 leads from that promotion.

Alas, a dealer who set up a working spa in a bank wasn’t so fortunate. It caught people’s attention, but nary a sale resulted.

One of the most memorable promotions of yesteryear also involved a spa. In 1979, a California spa manufacturer set up its biggest unit outside its showroom, filled it with water … and brought in “a playful elephant named Bubbles” to sit in the unit, splashing and having fun. The photo in Pool & Spa News at the time shows a pachyderm that seems to be having a blast. It was a unique way to illustrate the spa’s structural integrity and roominess – and it worked.