KIESTER — Despite wordplay that makes Kiester’s name the butt of a joke, a new Preparation H commercial set in the small town puts it in a positive light.
In the ad, a woman, clearly impressed by the quaint town, bicycles past its grocery store, movie theater and fire hall.
Al Bauman, head of the town’s historical society, said “If you look past what they’re advertising, it looks like a nice little place to live.”
Somewhat livelier than the real Kiester, in fact, considering the ad shows children outside the Kiester School, which closed in 1987. The closing of Kiester’s last school, in 2008, was a blow to the Faribault County town of 501, Bauman said.
That closure, combined with the loss of businesses in recent years, has put Kiester in a mood to welcome any attention.
“So any publicity, even though it’s Preparation H, can’t hurt, you know?” Bauman said. “A lot of people get a chuckle about it.”
The 15-second ad, which can be found on YouTube, debuted on June 7 and will continue to run on major networks and cable.
The company is hosting a thank-you party for the town Tuesday to invite residents to “experience first-hand just how ‘comfortable’ Preparation H® can make keisters,” according to a news release.
The ad’s theme is relief — from both the physical pain of hemorrhoids and the social stigma associated with, as the company playfully calls the rectal malady, “bum issues.”
After bicycling through Kiester, the woman turns to the camera and says, “And if I can get comfortable talking about this Kiester, then you can get comfortable using Preparation H.”
According to the company’s research, more than 44 million people suffer from hemorrhoids or similar problems but do not take steps to treat it.
“Whether a result of a negative stigma or a lack of knowledge, there are a number of reasons sufferers are not addressing their ‘bum issues’ and Preparation H wants to do away with the notion that hemorrhoids are taboo,” read an email attributed to Kelly Sherer, a senior brand manager for Preparation H.
Kiester residents are comfortable talking about their town’s name, Bauman said, considering it’s been around for 116 years.
In an earlier era of school rivalries, opponents would tease Kiester teams, saying “we’re all a bunch of … ” he said, trailing off.
Well, a bunch of what?
“Well, what the word means,” the curse-averse Bauman said.
The town was comfortable with Preparation H, so to speak, early on. Earlier this winter, the company asked for permission to explore a shoot, and the City Council granted it unanimously, Mayor Doug Trytten said. The company paid Kiester about $2,500 to film there.
“We’ve been joked about for a long time and yet we all know the background and where the real name came from,” he said. The town is named after Jacob Armel Kiester, a late 19th century Faribault County judge and state senator.
Mayor Trytten makes an appearance in the ad — three appearances, actually. He’s sitting outside Kiester Market, cheering on the marching band and resting in front of Kiester Implement.
Sherer, the brand manager, said in an email that Kiester residents were open to the filming once they were reassured they weren’t being made fun of.
But even if Kiester is comfortable with exposure on national television, talking about hemorrhoids themselves, at least with a reporter, is different.
“I hadn’t had any conversation about it,” Trytten said. “If they did have some issues they probably would consider Preparation H, especially the town folks.”