From Sitcom to Spokesman

Features - Marketing Matters

In its latest marketing campaign, Big Blue Bug Solutions of Providence, R.I., filmed a series of TV commercials featuring native New Englander and famous Seinfeld actor John O’Hurley.

July 9, 2020

Big Blue Bug Solutions is known for its creative marketing. In 1980, the company revealed its one-of-a-kind Big Blue Bug, a 58-foot tall mascot that stands atop the company’s headquarters in Providence, R.I. Since then, the bug has become a recognizable landmark of the Providence skyline to both clients and residents.


Now, Brian Goldman, CEO of Big Blue Bug Solutions, is channeling the firm’s creative marketing energies into the digital world with a new TV commercial campaign featuring celebrity John O’Hurley.

THE PERFECT FIT. O’Hurley’s most prominent role was playing J. Peterman on the hit comedy sitcom Seinfeld in the 1990s. O’Hurley is also an accomplished voice actor and often performs Shakespeare, and he was a previous host of the TV game show Family Feud. Now, he can add spokesperson for Big Blue Bug Solutions to his resume.

Goldman said he knew O’Hurley would be the ideal spokesperson for Big Blue Bug Solutions because both the actor and the pest control company are alike in many ways.

“We really thought he was the pinnacle person to represent our brand,” Goldman said. “He’s quirky, he’s funny, and people look at us and we’re kind of quirky and funny, too. So it’s just a perfect match.”

O’Hurley first appeared on Goldman’s radar when a friend mentioned that he knew the famous actor. 

“What are the odds that John O’Hurley would be able to do a commercial for us?” Goldman asked. While his friend said that was unlikely to happen, Goldman urged him to ask just in case.


“Fortunately, this friend of ours got back to me and said, “‘You know what? He actually loves the ‘Bug,’ and he’s on board to do this commercial,’” Goldman said.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Once filming began, Goldman said that O’Hurley was a natural, often coming up with his own jokes and dialogue on the fly (no pun intended).

“He’s very good at being off the cuff and being funny, and so it was a very loose script,” Goldman said.

To match Big Blue Bug Solutions’ off-the-wall brand, the commercials, which can be found on the company’s YouTube channel (see page at right), featured a drone camera, reading Shakespeare to customers and O’Hurley learning the ropes of becoming a pest control operator. There was also a bit of physical comedy involved, which Goldman said really added a quirky and hilarious touch.

“This last commercial I was able to be in it with him,” Goldman said. “There was one part where we were in the van after I just had to drag him out of a customer’s home, and I’m pounding my head against the steering wheel because it was that awful. I hit my head a little too hard and there was still a little bit of a welt after shooting.”

While Goldman had been in front of a camera previously, he had never performed like this before. “It was my first time doing any sort of physical comedy in front of a camera. But I just had a lot of fun watching John do what he does so well,” Goldman said. “We were honored that he wanted to represent the brand, and I think we had a lot of fun with it.”

EXPANDING REACH. Goldman explained that much of the outreach and marketing Big Blue Bug Solutions does is what he considers “major branding.” He wanted these commercials with O’Hurley to be something anyone could find entertaining and eventually recognize as the Big Blue Bug brand.

“We want to get the name out of who we are. We want to catch people’s attention. That way, when they have pest issues, they know to give us a call,” Goldman said. 

In its market, Big Blue Bug Solutions is well known due to the giant blue bug on its roof. These commercials are the company’s latest attempt to continue to expand outside of its current market. 

“As we’ve started to grow outside of our territory, we realized none of these people might know about the bug and who we are, but a lot of people recognize John O’Hurley,” Goldman said.  “And at the very minimum, they’re going to notice the commercials because they’re pretty funny.”

It seems like the plan has worked. Since the commercials were released, Goldman said Big Blue Bug Solutions has experienced an uptick in various public interactions. 

“We get calls all the time from people who just say, ‘I’ve never heard of you guys before, but I love the commercials,’” Goldman said. “We certainly believe it’s helping us to expand into other areas that we’re not as familiar with, but everybody knows John O’Hurley. Usually what we hear is, ‘No way, how’d you get him? He’s our favorite character from Seinfeld.’”

What’s next for Big Blue Bug Solutions? Goldman says the firm has more creative marketing ideas in the hopper. But to see them come to fruition, he said it’s all about finding that balance of grabbing people’s attention without being over the top.

“I think that anyone can say how good they do something, but it’s a lot harder to grab people’s attention,” Goldman said. “Some of our ideas are a little bit out there, but I thought with this one, we were able to make it work. I think the biggest thing for us with this whole experience is we truly feel like we found somebody that represented our brand perfectly.”

The author is a New York City-based writer.