Terminix is taking a humorous approach to pest control in its new campaign, the first work by the newly-appointed Martin Agency.
A series of comedic TV and social media spots, directed by Biscuit's Jeff Low, see the protagonists go to absurd lengths to eradicate pests—whether it's throwing their dinner at the termites on their deck and destroying the whole thing in the process, texting an irritating ex to get rid of a mouse or setting fire to your duplex to kill a bug.
In each spot, a fictional Terminix spokesman, played by "Flight of the Conchords" actor Rhys Darby, comes to the rescue. He turns up to remind them "The only way to nix it is to Terminix it," in his New Zealand accent. The brand and agency aimed to create a campaign that helps make Terminix synonymous with the word “nix" (and many of the situations in the spots also play on related words ending in "x").
“We chose humor to grab attention and relatability to draw you in,” said Martin Agency Executive Creative Director Ashley Marshall in a statement. “Martin was interested in taking on a category like pest control and a brand like Terminix because pests are unwelcome and scary. With Terminix, we are excited to use breakthrough creative to transform a category that no one wants to think about into one of the most talked about brands and sectors around.”
The Martin Agency was tapped as the company's new agency of record earlier this month, replacing Barkley, which had worked for Terminix for a year. The review had been launched by Terminix Chief Marketing Officer Alex Ho, who joined the Memphis, Tennessee-based pest control services provider last summer.
“I saw a lot of spots filled with chest bumping and technician heroics,” explained Ho on reviewing elements of Terminix’s creative reel when he took over as CMO in July of 2020. “Our goal is to turn outward and make Terminix a consumer brand that’s seen as the superior expert. We want to be more than just recognized. We want to be the brand consumers know is the leader—the first they’ll turn to for nixing.”
While the situations in the ads are of course exaggerated, they're based in truth: Terminix cites the remarkable lengths people will go to try and mitigate their own mice, ants, termites and other infestation woes. A Mintel report released in August of 2020 found that 73% of consumers won’t call an exterminator until they’ve tried to treat a pest issue themselves.
“There’s shame and fear in this category,” adds the Martin Agency's Marshall. “No one wants to tell you about their ant infestations, or the mouse that got into the house. Humor is a disarming tool for scary situations, and we honestly want to get people talking about pest control—and open up about the situations we’ve all been in. The experience of bugs, when you’re in it, isn’t necessarily hilarious. When you’re observing DIY fails that are more real than you’d imagine, it’s pretty funny.”