Back in April, Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems unveiled the newest member of its team at the Bryant 2006 National Dealer Convention. The company introduced "Bryantman," the superhero Bryant dealer who battles villains that prevent home heating and cooling comfort.

"Our dealers are the face of the Bryant brand, and iconic characters help to personify brand attributes, including unmatched quality and reliability," said Debbie Castro, Bryant advertising manager. "Bryantman is a natural extension of Bryant's brand positioning, echoing in one voice our dealers' dedication to customer satisfaction."

Six months later, how do Bryant dealers enjoy "rescuing their customers from evil?" The NEWS asked some of them about their early impressions of the new superhero and how this marketing idea is having an influence on their market share.

"We find Bryantman to be a refreshing character. In an industry where a lot of marketing programs are focused on new products, new improvements or new federal mandates, a refreshing character alone can and has set the Bryant brand in a league of its own," said Charlene Ierna of Ierna's Heating & Cooling Inc., Lutz, Fla. "From the inception of Bryantman, we have received endless compliments, acknowledgments, and yes, measurable amounts of actual sales calls resulting from the superhero himself.

"More specifically, we ran a local coloring contest that generated entries from five surrounding counties. These coloring sheets ended up in the hands of local librarians, educators, preschools, and to local consumers' homes every week."

"I think that Bryantman is a great way to reach and attract new customers," said Amanda Johnson of Commonwealth Cooling & Heating LLC, Lorton, Va. "Bryant has been very aggressive with the advertising campaign. You can really tell that they want to make Bryantman a household name."

For a larger version of this ad, click on the image above.

One Bryant distributor thought it was a little too early to make an assessment of the campaign but remains optimistic about its ultimate results. "I think it is too early to measure," said Naomi Bistline of the Behler-Young Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. "It takes many impressions to get through the clutter. What it does do is stay top of mind. Consumers will remember Bryantman when they are in need of HVAC work."

"Bryantman creates a heroic figure that is not only completely universal (regardless of the season) but that is also entirely unique to this industry," said Ierna. "The heroic Bryantman is a marketing tool that allows us as a dealer to get involved and interact with the community at many different levels."

Johnson likes the campaign because it is less dependent on equipment identity and more focused on contractor branding. "Bryantman represents the dealer and not the product line," she said. "It portrays the dealer as a superhero coming to the customer's rescue when problems occur with the HVAC system."

For a larger version of this ad, click on the image above.

Getting Out Into The Community

Using Bryantman to appeal to the community is another key to the success of the program. "Bryantman has been widely supported in our community, as well as with our employees," said Ierna. "We have a stand-up version of Bryantman that has literally traveled this community and its various events including: fall festivals, local parades, expo's, chamber of commerce meetings, and he has even attended the honorary mayor campaign.

"On a success measure relating to community involvement, one of our winners was largely recognized by not only his school, but by the county school board, for the excellent job he did coloring Bryantman and his pup."

Providing good service remains the key to success. But having Bryantman to "cover your back" isn't a bad thing, either.

"We have found that you can keep up with your existing customers by just providing good service, but it is always good to have your name repeated to them from time to time to keep the familiarity going," said Johnson.

"But I think that Bryantman is a great way to reach and attract new customers. Bryant has been very aggressive with the advertising campaign."

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Publication date: 10/30/2006