Jay Dortzbach, Deseret News
OREM — A company is rolling out a new ad campaign and an offer for customers after a previous mailer featuring a child playing with a rubber ducky next to an open toilet drew criticism over safety concerns.
The ad from Any Hour Services had been circulating in mailers and features 16-month-old Abe Walker next to a toilet holding a rubber ducky. The slogan says: “No job too small, we fix it all.”
Vince and Lark Martinez said Tuesday the ad hit too close to home and the death of their son.
In 1994, their then-14-month-old son Tregory leaned over the toilet bowl too far, fell in and couldn’t pull himself out. He suffered massive brain damage, and after a long fight for his life, ultimately died.
“This just came as complete devastation,” Lark Martinez said. “We had to hop the baby gate with him, because that’s just how safety conscious we are.”
Fallout over the previous ad cut deeply at Any Hour. Hepworth considers his a “pro-family” business, with clean-cut, licensed workers.
“In sincerity, we wanted to reach out to this family and let them know that we really do care,” Hepworth said.
A new Any Hour Services ad slated to go out this weekend features the same child standing next to a toilet that has the seat lowered and a child safety lock in place.
The ad also has photos of Lark and Vince Martinez and their deceased son, Tregory, and bears the inscription: “Keep your toddlers safe and clean with toilet latch.”
The ad has the full support of the Martinez family.
“That’s the one thing (Lark) said that if she would have had that safety device, things would be much different now,” said Wyatt Hepworth, who consulted directly with the family about the new advertising direction.
Hepworth said the company, starting immediately, will install a free child-proof latch with any plumbing purchase over $50.
“We are working together and I feel very blessed for this situation,” Lark Martinez said Thursday. “I feel really confident that so much good is coming out of this.”
Jesse Walker, Abe's mother, said she keeps her toilet seat down at home and she feels that playing around the toilet is “gross.” But she said she never thought what happened to the Martinez family could happen in a home.
“You think about the bath tub and you think about pools and things like that, but you never think about the toilet,” Walker said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recorded dozens of child injuries and deaths in toilets over the past two decades. It recommends families with young children install the toilet seat cover locks, such as the ones Any Hour Services is now offering to install.
Hepworth said he hopes the new ad and offer may spare others the tragedy that struck Tregory and his parents.
“They (the Martinez family) are very happy that we’re sincere about it and that we actually care,” he said.
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