The 5-Stinky Story
In December of 1999, owners Bob and Roy Birnie discovered that their family’s company had been left out of the Yellow Pages for the 1999-2000 book. They were devastated as at this time, the Yellow Pages phone book was the main source of marketing for most companies. With their father Thos. R. Birnie being in his 80’s at the time, many in the community thought the company had gone out of business and had decided not to renew its Yellow Pages advertising.
Once the new book went into circulation, the company’s call count started to decline drastically and by January of the new year they had dropped as low as 50%. At the time, the business had 15 employees between both the service trucks and road crew.
A plumber who worked for the company, Paul, came to ownership and mentioned that his wife Helena who worked in print media might be able to help get them through this time. She provided them with lots of ideas and information about where to put ads, however this was mainly directly towards magazines.
Bob and Roy knew they needed to go bigger, so they spoke with Dick Thompson at CHML about their situation. After their discussion, on January 28, 2000 they received a note from CHML that read:
“We realize your loss of business will be tremendous…we are going to give you twenty 30 second commercials each weekend from now until March 26th…and this will be on a no charge basis. We want to help as much as we can and minimize your losses.”
Bob and Roy also explained their situation to Mike Samples at CHCH. In response the station ran the company’s ads during their 7-8pm prime time slot. CHCH worked with the company in an effort to support a business of longevity in the city, providing very reasonable rates. This support from both local stations during their time of need was an answer of prayer for the Birnie family.
In order to continue to promote their business, Bob and Roy knew they needed to come up with something to help customers remember their company’s phone number. At the time the business was already using the slogan “it’s a stinky business and we love it!” It was Bob’s wife Judy who came up with the idea of using STINKY directly in the phone number.
Bob and Roy worked at putting the STINKY letters to numbers. They also knew they needed the “5” in front as this was the office’s area number for phone numbers at the time (and numbers could not be ported). Once they determined the 5-STINKY number, they called it to see who owned it. Bob and Roy reached a woman who agreed to meet with them at their office to discuss buying her unlisted number. When the women came to their office she brought a friend, and Bob and Roy explained to her how her number would be good for their business. They didn’t mention her number spelled stinky! After their discussion she agreed to give the company her number. The business covered all the costs for switching her phone to a new number and paid for one year of phone bills.
With the company’s new 5-Stinky phone number ready, the team met with Gord McCallum from Arteest who revamped the company’s logo and updated the business’ marketing to the 5-Stinky branding. The company then began to advertise their new branding to the community through many avenues such as commercials, home shows, and flyers. In 2001, the business returned to the Yellow Pages phone book with their new phone number and in 2002 was even the first company to have an advertisement on the spine of the book! To this day the company continues to be remembered in the communities it serves for its 5-Stinky branding.
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