Winner of a Shark Tank episode, the founders of this real product invented it out of necessity. Here’s how they applied successful principles of public relations—using outrageous emotional impact to make it big time.
The founder of the Squatty Potty’s mother suffered from chronic constipation. For her, regularity was a ‘poop’ dream. Attempting to solve the problem, she sought medical advice. A doctor recommended a different position when pooping— more like a squat. She tried a footstool to raise her knees while on the toilet. Problem eliminated! Literally.
But the footstool wasn’t perfect. So her son, Bobby Edwards, creator and CEO of Squatty Potty, and a self-described gypsy, designed a better stool that allowed her to raise her feet to achieve that ideal squatting position. His mother found this worked better for her and had a few friends and family try it out. Voilá! It worked for them too! The idea took hold and with an incredibly successful YouTube ad and a very supportive family, the founder and family have become multimillionaires. Squatty Potty is now sold everywhere; from Amazon, to Bed, Bath and Beyond and Home Depot.
Suddenly, doing one’s business became big business.
Here’s the PR rollout:
• The product launched in 2011 and was made of wood. They named it the Squatty Potty based on a name they’d heard for traditional hole-in-the-ground toilets in China. Other potential names included “The Health Step,” “The S— Shelf” and “The Stool Stool.” (1)
• Bobby said squatting is the way humans are supposed to, well, poop. “We all have a kink in our colon,” he said. “It’s there to maintain continence. Otherwise we’d be crapping our pants wherever we go.” Sitting on a toilet relaxes the kink to a point, but squatting opens everything up for better evacuation. “Most of your problems with your colon start where that kink is,” said his father, Bill. (1)
• The family began giving footstools to friends, who considered them gag gifts— until they started using them. “I saw the results, and I saw the effect on people, and I’m like, ‘There really is something here,'” said Bobby. So, he and his parents and a brother invested $35,000 to set up a website and begin manufacturing for real.
• Judy, Bobby’s mom, decided the stools needed to be made out of plastic to bring down the price, and they placed their first large order. “The first order was like 2,000 Squatty Potties. They arrived from China in a huge shipping container,” said Bobby. “I was like, ‘What? We are never going to sell these,’ right? Now we sell that many a day.”
• In 2014 they qualified to go on Shark Tank’s 6th season and made a deal with Lori Greiner, which landed them some high-profile shelf space in Bed, Bath and Beyond nationwide. A royal flush.
Although no one wants to talk about it, everyone poops, and celebrating regularity is a lofty (though seldom discussed) goal. And they do talk about poop a lot in their videos….
First-year sales in 2011 were $17,000. Sales hit a whopping $19 million in 2015 after the Shark Tank help. And by the end of 2017, they’d reached nearly $33 million. “We’re going to probably hit $100 million within the next few years,” said Judy. Another royal flush. Sales skyrocketed once they’d launched their incredibly successful YouTube video ads. Humor and insouciance are vital weapons in their marketing campaign and these videos are hilarious. Featuring a Sarasota-based actor playing the handsome Prince of Poop with a slight British accent,(2) viewers are treated to watching a unicorn poop out rainbow swirl ice cream into cones, which the Prince and several adorable children happily lick.
Yes, I said lick.
The poop hit the fan and the original investors were so outraged they refused to fund the first YouTube attempt. However, the owners of the company took the risk and funded that first unforgettable video themselves.What a good gamble that was. It proved to be about 10 times more successful in boosting sales than even their appearance on Shark Tank, or mentions on Dr. Oz or Howard Stern. The original unicorn YouTube ad now has more than 34 million views; it truly has gone viral. (3)
The potty humor continues with several other hilarious YouTube Squatty Potty ads, (4) including one with the Prince of Poop touting that “dragons poop gold” and continues “So you can potty like it’s 1999. Sorry, wrong Prince,” he says. See the ad here. Enjoy the go. A unicorn pooping out rainbow-swirled ice cream into cones is so bold that the audience laughs at its absurdity… but they remember it. This intestinal humor even permeates their Amazon customer reviews. Read of one man’s journey to freedom from constipation here. It is truly a three-flush review! (5)
The promotion of Squatty Potty is an application of the basics of effective public relations coupled with marketing and sales intelligent promotion. Yes, sales is also intelligent promotion. And if you order a Squatty Potty, you will see that hilarity ensues even after you get your plastic throne stool.
Squatty Potty and its founders have demonstrated this very successfully. Yes, regularity reigns supreme and they won’t be de-throned any time soon.
(2) Sarasota Herald Tribune. “HT VIDEO: Sarasota Actor Is Prince of Poop for Squatty Potty.” YouTube, YouTube, 14 Oct. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV82JzRBcf4
(3) MySquattyPotty. “Squatty Potty Founders Take Big Risk on Unicorn Video and Make Millions.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Jan. 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO553oZHwZI
(4) Ward, Melissa. “A Viral Success Recipe: Unicorns, Ice Cream and Poop Jokes,” Target Marketing, 22 November 2016. https://www.targetmarketingmag.com/post/viral-success-recipe-unicorns-ice-cream-poop-jokes/
(5) Jaquith, Mark. “This changes everything. Well, okay… just pooping.” Customer Review, Amazon.com, 6 November 2013. https://www.amazon.com/review/R3SNTSII1C8R1X/ref=as_at