When hearing the words “Deader Than Dead Tour,” a person might conjure images of a strange sort of Grateful Dead revival or perhaps a tour of a new death metal band. But, when seeing the actual Sentricon System Deader Than Dead Tour main act — the Coroner’s Caddy, a 17-foot hearse with a 100-pound replica of a deceased termite on the rooftop — feelings of curiosity and intrigue surely would be summoned by people in the area.

WHAT IN THE WORLD? The Sentricon system team had the idea to create a giant termite model, attach it to the roof of a hearse, and then tour six cities across 12 states in 26 days during peak termite swarm season in March and April. There were a few goals for this clever termite awareness tour, in addition to kicking off during the National Pest Management Association’s termite awareness week (March 11-17).

Brooklynne Dalton, urban pest marketing communications manager, Corteva Agriscience, said the tour helped support Certified Sentricon Specialists — companies that are qualified to install and service the Sentricon system — with their marketing and education efforts to homeowners on the importance of preventive termite control and the value that the Sentricon system provides by eliminating the entire colony, including the queen. While on the road, the tour participants focused on “gathering and sharing success stories [from pest management professionals and homeowners], encouraging proactive treatment and elevating the threat that termites pose,” says Dalton.

Brooklynne Dalton

TAKING OFF. Plenty of planning and preparation were involved to make a success out of this unique, educational road show. The Sentricon system marketing team worked closely with Sentricon territory managers to plan and map out the tour. A few Certified Sentricon Specialists were a bit skeptical at first, but the “overwhelming majority were supportive of the idea. You have to break through the clutter in today’s market and make people do a double-take,” explains Dalton. And, speaking of double-takes, she says that since every good tour has a tour bus, or a symbol of the tour, the hearse with a 7-foot dead termite on top really captured the message of this expedition.

Dubbed the Coroner’s Caddy, the 17-foot hearse was purchased, and the 100-pound, 7-foot termite replica was fabricated by a Milwaukee-area company in a five-week process using foam, wires, epoxy and then paint to reflect a real-life but giant termite. The Coroner’s Caddy drew “quite a few looks as we were driving across the 12 states,” Dalton says. As a result, the tour gained great momentum. The hearse was eye-catching and started conversations about termite awareness and the threat that termites pose. Plus, the vehicle’s visual component helped to, Dalton says, “pique the interest of people not directly involved in the pest control industry.”

TOUR STOP RESULTS. In addition to raising awareness about the threat that termites pose, at each tour stop, Certified Sentricon Specialists were given the opportunity to interact with customers and the community. The Coroner’s Caddy made six official stops on the following dates at these locations:

Employees at Manhattan, Kansas-based American Pest Management take photos with the Coroner’s Caddy during the Deader Than Dead Tour.
  • 3/16/18: Cayce, S.C., at Home Pest Control
  • 3/20/18: Metairie, La., at Terminix Service Company
  • 3/22/18: Mobile, Ala., at Arrow Exterminators
  • 3/29/18: Lubbock, Texas, at D’s Pest Control
  • 4/04/18: Manhattan, Kansas, at American Pest Management
  • 4/10/18: Cincinnati, Ohio, at Scherzinger Pest Control

At the fifth stop in Manhattan, Kansas, Travis Aggson, executive vice president/Associate Certified Entomologist, American Pest Management, found the timing of the tour and the excitement and hype for termite awareness week to be beneficial to the Deader Than Dead Tour stop at his company. “Every year we try and bring awareness of termites during the swarm season to the communities we serve,” using radio ads, social media and public outreach events, he says. But, this year the tour using a 17-foot hearse with a giant termite attached created a huge buzz.

American Pest Management hosted an entire day dedicated to the event. The company visited a local elementary school for a “good bug versus bad bug” presentation. And, there was a barbecue for more than 100 guests, counting the city’s mayor, and with invitations to members of the local Builders Association, Realtor Association and Chamber of Commerce. The regional television station featured a story on the news as well.

“Our main objective was to create awareness, [and] we feel this event started our heavy pest pressure season off with a bang,” Aggson says.

At the sixth and final stop of the tour, Eric Scherzinger, vice president of sales and marketing, Scherzinger Pest Control, admits that there were some initial hesitations about participating in the Deader Than Dead Tour due to how a “big termite on top of a hearse” might be perceived. But, the reservations were countered with marketing awareness, people taking pictures with the Coroner’s Caddy (“not something you see every day,” says Scherzinger) and the entire event generated lots of conversations. All of the news agencies in Cincinnati had been contacted and visited, and given themed cookies decorated with the Deader Than Dead Tour logo.

The hearse also drove to a special reception for the National Apartment Association to generate additional termite protection awareness. Scherzinger said the tour “was definitely worth it. It ended up being really neat.”

The author is a Cleveland-area freelancer.