A mannequin worth every cent of free airtime
Tousley Motorsports hopes to capitalize on free radio publicity
Shaquiella has become a rock star at Tousley Motorsports in White Bear Lake, Minn. However, she isn’t a salesperson; she isn’t a P&A employee, and she’s not a tech. With her long black hair and curvy figure, she’s now the most famous mannequin in the Twin Cities.
Shaquiella was the focus of Tousley Motorsports’ June appearance on the 93X Half-Assed Morning Show, which offered the dealership nine minutes of unpaid airtime.
The saga started a few years ago, when morning show hosts Josh and Ross began talking about Tousley’s mannequins on air.
“The store was at an ATV event, and Josh showed up there and started talking to [Tousley salesman] Jonny O and said, ‘You guys have really hot mannequins.’ He was really taken by the mannequins, so he started talking about it on air,” said Peter Jones, general manager of Tousley Motorsports.
Over time, the mannequins would occasionally be discussed on air, but for some reason, they became a hot topic at the end of May. Jones arrived at the dealership on June 3 to find his staff looking for the mannequins. Over the weekend, because of recent on-air coverage, people had been stopping by the dealership just to get a glimpse at the mannequins. However, due to showroom changes over the years, the mannequins had been removed and placed in storage.
The staff at Tousley saw an opportunity with the mannequin publicity, so they began unpacking them. Unfortunately, some had been damaged, so more had to be ordered, and the staff made sure they were just as voluptuous as the originals.
“We had a mannequin overnighted from L.A. to the store for $700,” Jones recalled.
Later that week, Jonny O approached Jones with an opportunity to be on-air. Josh and Nick, another host of the show, asked the dealership if a couple staff members could bring one of the mannequins by and talk about it on air. Jones jumped at the opportunity.
The best kind of publicity
“My reaction was ‘This is great publicity.’ This is one of these things that you just stumble upon, dumb luck that you can leverage,” he said.
Jones and Jonny O brought the mannequin and three of their Tousley Motorsports Girls to the show that Friday, receiving nine minutes of airtime, talking about the mannequin and promoting the dealership. Josh and Nick dubbed the mannequin Shaquiella, but you’ll have to watch the video to learn why.
Following the show, the staff brought the mannequin, outfitted with a 93X T-shirt, back to the dealership and set it up along with others that the dealership had salvaged or bought. The mannequins’ presence was noticed at a Victory event held that weekend.
“I was walking around, and I heard people talking, ‘Those are the mannequins they were talking about on the radio,’” Jones said.
They weren’t only talking about the mannequins, but they were also interacting with them, as the mannequins were dressed in everything from Tousley Motorsports T-shirts to Sea-Doo lifevests.
“They had been talking about it, so guys are coming in to see these mannequins, and then they take picture and throw it on their Facebook page, and we’re like ‘Great!’” Jones said.
The dealership also hopped on Facebook that day, promoting the show before and after, offering a link to the show’s podcast and photos from the visit. Staff also created a page for Shaquiella Tousley. Taking advantage of this opportunity as it came to them was important, Jones said.
“It’s mission critical because it’s free, it really is. We didn’t spend a dime for it, other than we bought some mannequins. We didn’t pay for it; it’s not political; it’s not religious; it’s something people can get a chuckle out of that benefits Tousley,” he explained.
Just get ’em in the door
The dealership hopes to continue to use its newfound popularity to earn more traffic. It’s also using Shaquiella and her new mannequin friends to promote events such as an August poker run benefitting the Special Olympics.
“I don’t know how long we’ll get out of it. Even if it dies in a month or so, you can’t pay for what we have, but we’re going to try to keep it going,” Jones said.
Even though the event has been surreal with so much excitement packed in a quick time, Tousley Motorsports is happy to have had the coverage.
“You try and become known for great selection and everything else, and you end up being known for mannequins,” Jones said, “but whatever gets them in the door, I guess.”