It's not a secret. This industry just does not have the high-profile appeal it desires. Or, deserves.

Generally speaking, architects are not overly concerned in how the buildings they design are cooled or heated. As long as it stands out from the crowd, and is functional, they've done their job.

Meanwhile, many builders are not necessarily concerned about indoor air quality (IAQ) or if a home has an 18-SEER system in place. What matters more is how the countertops look in the kitchen, those bay windows, or the overall costs.

It's the same with homebuyers. The heating and cooling of their prospective new home is not high on their list. Instead, it's about that refrigerator that may need replacing, or painting that black room a lighter color, or changing the bathroom environment. Not unless it is noted that the furnace is on its last leg or central air may not be in the selected home is the heating and cooling scrutinized.

It really is a shame. But this is nothing new to each of you. It's something this industry has just grown to ... well ... accept.

But is this acceptable?

It's All About Marketing

It always amazes me how the auto industry markets its products. A car is a car is a car, right? Wrong! Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, et al, attract buyers through many messages. For instance, I am not sure how a sports car can be described as "sexy," but it is being done. It's the same with alcohol, clothing, sporting events, you name it.

It's called marketing, and this industry just is not doing a good job in promoting its value to the world. In the long run, if you can't beat ‘em, why not join ‘em? If sex does sell, then let's get on the bandwagon.

I can hear many of you already. That is not the path this industry should travel, right? I understand. We should be stressing comfort, IAQ, and the like. However, if that message is not striking a chord with consumers, then let's take a proven route. No?

In truth, the heating and cooling industry has more "sex appeal," if you will, than any automobile. In today's vernacular, if you are described as being "hot," you would likely consider that a compliment. If you can describe a furnace as being "hot"... well, can't the connection be made there? That's right - furnaces are sexy!

Of course, if a "hot" man or woman needs to be cooled, this is where air conditioning comes into the marketing picture. Envision a "hot" body being cooled by a 13-SEER unit. Is this lowering this industry's standards or is this a clever (or better?) way to get consumers' attention?

When you think of Sports Illustrated, do you think of its annual swimsuit issue? The latest in swimsuit wear does not really fit in with a publication that prides itself in reporting on football, baseball, hockey, and all national sports. However, this publication drew attention to itself by creating this "need" to show women in revealing swimwear.

Go figure.

On another front, according to the TV and radio commercials, only the finest hops are used in making Budweiser Select beer. At the same time, it is brewed slower and longer, which makes the product "finish fresh." I've asked many people what the heck that means, but it appears this is open to many different interpretations.

Still, it gets you thinking. It is designed to peak the consumers' interest. In the end, it's all in the marketing message.

Some time ago, a few HVAC industry associations had plans to create an industry-wide message. The group had visions of duplicating what the milk industry did with its highly successful "Got Milk?" campaign. However, it appears this project has died on the vine. If dead, this project should be resurrected, as this industry definitely needs a common thread throughout its marketing message.

Mark Skaer is senior editor. He can be reached at 618-239-0288 or

Publication date: 10/10/2005