NPMA Entomologist Michael Bentley, Ph.D., the host of “Will They Eat It?”

Working in the structural pest management industry, it’s common knowledge that termites are known for their destructive wood-based diet, causing billions of dollars in property damage each year. But, it’s also pretty interesting to see some of the other types of items they’re capable of chewing through inside a home. The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), the consumer education and public outreach arm of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), wanted to take those insights to the general public.

To show homeowners how termites can take a bite out of wallets in more ways than one, PPMA produced an eye-opening video series, “Will They Eat It?,” with support from the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board.

After chewing through dyed cotton towels, the termites absorbed the color, turning blue and red.

Over the course of six purposefully cheesy gameshow-like episodes, everyday items like towels, shoes and even fast food were introduced into tanks containing 100,000 hungry termites to find out, “Will they eat it?”

Building on the consumer awareness generated by PPMA’s Tiny Termite House project which was released in May of 2018 and garnered impressive local and national media coverage, the organization employed a digital-first approach to effectively reach and engage with modern-day consumers. Utilizing social media networks and digital promotions, PPMA transformed its tried-and-true termite awareness messaging into fun, engaging and shareable content emphasizing the importance of professional pest control.

FOCUS ON VIDEO. Within the pest control industry, the destructive nature and power of termites is well documented, but there is not much consumer-facing material available. In today’s content-first mentality, stale statistics and materials fail to make a real impact when it comes to raising consumer awareness and transforming public perception. In order to meet the needs of today’s visually focused and time-pressed consumers, PPMA leaned on modern marketing techniques to package termite information and prevention tips via unique and engaging video content that was also entertaining.

“Consumers today turn to social media and online videos to get their daily dose of information and entertainment,” said Cindy Mannes, executive director, PPMA. “By building the campaign as an online video series, we knew we would be directly reaching people via their preferred content channels.”

As video content and YouTube have continued to increase in popularity and sheer volume, so too has the variety of video themes and genres. PPMA came up with the idea for “Will They Eat It?” based on a growing collection of online video content focused on testing the limits and capabilities of everyday items.

Typically staying out of sight, homeowners aren’t always familiar with these “silent destroyers” and the threats they pose. By bringing these termites into focus and showcasing the damage they can cause to other household items, rather than internal wood beams or other hidden structural elements, the campaign gave homeowners an up-close look at the destructive abilities of termites in a fun and unusual way.

By building the campaign as an online video series, we knew we would be directly reaching people via their preferred content channels.” — Cindy Mannes, executive director, PPMA

PARTNERSHIP & PROCESS. Following the successful execution of the Tiny Termite House, PPMA continued the organization’s partnership with the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board (NOMTRCB), a group with a diverse talent set and in-depth understanding of termites. The collaboration paired PPMA’s marketing expertise and digital execution with NOMTRCB’s resources and working space. The groups worked together to select the items and script the gameshow-like episodes, casting Michael Bentley, Ph.D., entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), as the host.

“Although I’ve worked with and studied various termite species for years, I was still in awe of the damage they were able to cause to each of the items, especially in such a short time period,” said Bentley. “The headphones and fast food demonstrations were just incredible and it was amazing to see how termites engaged with the various items — some having more cellulose than others.”

Aside from scripting the episodes, PPMA fully managed the project from set design and creative direction to production and promotion. After the termites had been given ample time with each item, PPMA traveled to New Orleans to see the results for themselves and film the series. With Bentley as the host, the team revealed and showcased the damage caused by the termites, surprising and amazing even the seasoned professionals in the room.

SPREAD THE WORD. Once the filming was done and the episodes were complete, PPMA embarked on a digital campaign to share the results with consumers, as well as raise awareness of the dangers posed by termites and the importance of professional pest control.

PPMA utilized the organization’s growing digital presence and released the episodes on a weekly basis across its social media platforms. To complement the full episodes, a dedicated microsite was created to house all of the digital assets while time-lapse videos and before-and-after photos were posted to keep consumers tuned-in between episodes. The video series was supported with a carefully managed digital advertising campaign.

Furthermore, PPMA provided a dedicated project toolkit on www.ppmamainframe.org, the organization’s online digital agency, so companies that invest in the organization could help further spread the campaign and use the new video and photo assets as their own content for their followers and customers.

More than 100,000 termites were dumped on both a dictionary and a set of headphones. To see video of these items being destroyed, visit http://willtheyeatit.pestworld.org.

Whether it’s the paper packaging or the cellulose-infused food, termites will make fast work of fast food if given the chance.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT. The two-month digital campaign generated millions of online impressions and hundreds of thousands of video views, helping expand PestWorld.org’s digital audience and appeal while further establishing the National Pest Management Association as a trusted consumer resource for any and all things pest-related.

Offline, “Will They Eat It?” earned some notoriety with the professional industry as well. “During the 2019 PestWorld convention in San Diego, Calif., PPMA displayed real items from the set at the Discover NPMA booth. Countless attendees stopped by to see them and take pictures, noting they had already seen the episodes online and were amazed by the results,” said Mannes. “That was very meaningful and wonderful to see — how this work really makes an impact and supports companies in the industry.”

PPMA also hosted a panel discussion at NPMA PestWorld which discussed its large-scale consumer campaigns to a packed room of attendees, sharing the project results and visuals while also demonstrating the impact this type of marketing initiative can have on business and industry growth.

The two-month digital campaign generated millions of online impressions and hundreds of thousands of video views, helping expand PestWorld.org’s digital audience.

FUTURE APPLICATIONS. High-resolution video footage and photographs from the “Will They Eat It?” campaign are available on Mainframe, a subscription service to PPMA’s digital marketing agency. Time-lapse videos, before-and-after photos, and the episodes themselves all can be used by companies to enhance their own marketing initiatives.

Whether on social media or using a tablet during an in-person appointment, the educational and entertaining materials can quickly and effectively show homeowners the damage termites are capable of causing behind their own walls if left unchecked. Here are some ways companies can utilize the materials if they invest in PPMA and subscribe to its Mainframe service:

  • Embed the episodes on your website and post the materials on your company’s social media channels.
  • Share the materials with local media during termite season.
  • Upload the content to a digital tablet for technicians to use as a sales and educational tool in the field.

When sharing these assets, proper credit must be given to the National Pest Management Association as the consumer-facing professional organization.

Powered by PPMA, Mainframe is an exclusive digital subscription service providing easy access to professional and ready-made marketing materials. When PMPs subscribe to Mainframe, they become a PPMA investor, receiving the benefits and recognition of an industry leader while helping grow the professional pest control market.

For more information about PPMA, visit http://npmapestworld.org/ppma or contact Cindy Mannes at cmannes@pestworld.org.