February 14, 2012 | 3:50pm
A news release about Jingleheimer Schmidt's "Tale of Water Tragedy and Conservation Triumph" mentioned that he would be available for interviews, so we called and spoke with him, accompanied by representatives from the P.R. firm hired by the effort.
They at first said he was "fashionably late," but Jingleheimer Schmidt immediately chimed in with, "John Jacob here. I was just slingin' some rebates."
I asked Jingleheimer Schmidt about how the program was going, but ad rep Jennifer Jurado chimed in with the numbers: Since October, she said, the program has given away about 200 rebates for high-efficiency toilets, some for as much as $100. They hope to give out 2,000 total, plus a number of showerheads and faucet aerators that number "in the thousands."
When I asked why an animated puppet galavanting around Nursery RhymeLand was an effective way to appeal to adults, Environmental PR Group President Honey Rand said, "People love kids, and they love kid-related kind of things.
"All the major social changes came about because of kids," Rand said. "Daddy, don't drink and drive. Daddy, buckle your seat belt."
She said the remainder of the campaign would be launched over the next eight to ten weeks; Jingleheimer Schmidt (or at least an actor playing the character) will also be making a string of public appearances starting this Friday at the Florida Panthers game against the Washington Capitals.
"I think we've developed some fun levity for the program that will cause people to stop and have a chuckle [while learning about the program]," she said. "The first step in any marketing effort is to get somebody's attention."
The reps also said Jingleheimer Schmidt was a "partymeister" and a "fabulous spokescharacter."
"I'm looking to capture the imagination of everyone in Broward County," Jingleheimer Schmidt said. "And if I can capture their imagination, I can convince them to switch to an energy-efficient toilet."