Dave Pollak joined Cintas 20 years ago after spending two decades at DuPont. In January, he oversaw the launch of Cintas' new “Team With the White Trucks” marketing campaign. The effort features sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and uses Cintas' trucks as a branding device. For Cintas, which is primarily known as a supplier of work uniforms, the campaign is designed to promote its other lines of business, which include fire safety, first aid and document services. Pollak (along with Jamie Samide, Cintas' director of marketing-emerging business), discussed the campaign, its genesis and its goals.
CMO Close-Up: What was the main goal of the new campaign?
We have 900,000 customers that we see usually on a weekly basis. We have a pretty good relationship with these customers, but about three-quarters of them only use one line of business service from Cintas. We're in the uniform business, the facilities service business, first aid and safety business, fire protection and document management. The insight for this campaign was sitting down with panels of customers and getting feedback like, “Well, I would have gotten that from Cintas, but I didn't know you did that.” That was the insight that led us to ask, “What can we do to boost awareness of all the other services we offer customers?” If a customer uses one, or two, or three, or four of the business lines from Cintas, they are far less likely to leave any of those services. So what we're trying to do is help build awareness for the behind-the-scenes services, so that we provide customers the help they need in every aspect of their business.
Our equity is in our trucks. Those trucks show up daily, weekly or monthly at our customers. And when people see that truck show up, it's kind of a symbol of excellence, a symbol of our services. A lot of people know us for uniforms. They see that truck and they assume it's the uniforms. But we want the campaign to get across that Cintas is a team of white trucks, not just the uniform truck. The other insight is that sports have played a big role with our customers. Where we would see traditional direct marketing open rates of 3% to 4% on base campaigns, it jumps up to 20% when we have sports-related-type things. So as we started doing the campaign, we started looking at who are the types of people who could bring instant credibility to that? Ultimately, we chose Erin Andrews.
CMO Close-Up: You mention sports: What percentage of your audience is male?
You've got the decision-maker level. It has been traditionally predominantly male, but we know that there are more and more female decision-makers—especially as we move into fields like healthcare.
Part of our diligence in selecting Erin was talking to customers and prospects about that. Interestingly, when folks heard her name, some knew her from sports, others knew her from “Dancing With the Stars”. There was this other connection of who she was, and it was still a positive halo.
We were looking to make sure we had a crossover spokesperson that would appeal to professional women as well as men.
CMO Close-Up: What are the media you're using for this campaign?
It's a holistic campaign. We launched the radio in the middle of January. That will go through the end of our fiscal year, which is the end of May. It is a national radio campaign on both sports talk radio and news talk. It's to get to decision-makers but also to get to people who would typically wear our uniforms as well. You have two levels of pull-through on this. In addition to that, we've taken some very strong customer testimonials, and Erin is very good at introducing testimonials. We found that testimonials from customers do very well. And we've been able to put those in digital formats now that salespeople can send to prospects.
CMO Close-Up: How are you using social media in the campaign?
One of the things we noticed about Erin was her ridiculous Twitter following. When we thought about creating our own (Twitter feed), we believed it was easier to latch on to what she had. She has over 1 million Twitter followers. As part of our agreement with her, we're utilizing her at timely points to put out tweets for us. It's a lot better than us trying to create our own groundswell. ... She actually acquires anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 new Twitter followers a day. Incredible.