The goal of most direct response ads is to see the product take off on the air and in retail stores, but at least one ad produced 12 years ago saw the product literally take off—into restricted airspace. Back in 2002, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based multichannel agency acquirgy, Inc., was shooting an ad for the Shark Sweeper from Euro-Pro. After capturing demonstrations and testimonials, the creative team came up with a kicker to show how incredibly light the new carpet sweeper was, and sent the Shark aloft tied a bouquet of multicolored balloons. “We tethered it with a monofilament fishing line,” recalls Harry Greene, acquirgy’s executive vice president of production, before starting to shoot B-roll footage. “Lo and behold, a nice gust of wind came along and snapped the line.”
The Shark started to float up and away. “We all kind of panicked,” Greene says, since 9/11 was still fresh in people’s minds and the acquirgy studios are located not far from Tampa International Airport. “We envisioned this thing floating into the traffic pattern and causing a disaster. We called the FAA and told them to tell pilots to watch out for the flying carpet sweeper. They thought we were joking—that it was some kind of gag.”
Its potential as a threat to safety neutralized, the Shark floated off into the distance, never to be seen again. “We halfway expected to hear something about it—like somebody woke up in the morning and found a carpet sweeper in their yard,” Greene says. Perhaps one lucky person did get a Shark Sweeper without calling the 800 number, but the spot proved successful and aired for more than two years, helping the Shark brand and Euro-Pro achieve new heights.