Mr. Porter thought highly enough of Clean Shower, a shower-surface cleaner that requires no scrubbing and has no harsh fumes, to invest his own money. He also became VP-chief operating officer of Automation, the company that sells Clean Shower, and president of its in-house ad agency, East Pointe Advertising, Jacksonville, Fla.
"I had a budget of about $1 million, and I was looking at how to launch a product across the country on such a small budget," says the Harvard MBA.
Mr. Porter's solution-live endorsements by drive-time radio personalities-worked beyond his dreams. He had to develop a staggered ad schedule to keep the product in stock during the first 10 weeks of rollouts in new markets.
The key to creating convincing ads was convincing DJs, Mr. Porter says.
"We told them up front that unless you love our product, we don't want you to do the ads, because we believe radio listeners can hear through that," the executive says.
Only five of the 1,200 radio personalities who tried Clean Shower didn't like it, he claims.
Clean Shower's sales have climbed to about $1 million monthly.
Traffic generated by Clean Shower's radio campaign even helped convince some retailers to lower slotting fees.
With expanded distribution, Clean Shower will get $3 million in ad support this year, including national radio on Rush Limbaugh's show and possibly syndicated TV ads on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
But Mr. Porter is also hoping the drive-time endorsement network he helped create for Clean Shower will become a platform for future new-product launches.