A Solution looking for a Problem
Show customers what their problem is.
For decades after its initial launch in the 1880's, Listerine remained a product with a variety of uses. It was originally invented as a surgical antiseptic but its germ killing properties also proved useful in foot cleaning, floor scrubbing and preventing infection in wounds. In later years, it was marketed to dentists to kill germs in the mouth, but originally, it failed to get their attention.
Unsatisfied with current product sales, company owner Jordan Wheat Lambert and his son devised a plan that would make the product take off. They invented the word halitosis from "halitus", the Latin word for breath, and added the medical sounding "osis". They started putting the medical sounding "halitosis" in their ads, depicting social situations in which the condition would prevent them from attractive to others.
Poor, sad Edna remained single as she watched her friends happily moving forward with their lives and getting married. She was such a nice girl... what could be the problem?
Listerine had essentially used the fear of embarrassment as a selling tool which was, at the time, something that had not been attempted.
Listerine mouthwash remained a strong seller for many decades. That was, until the late 1960's, when P&G introduced Scope mouthwash and used Listerine's mediciney and unpleasant taste against them. The ad below is from the 70’s and included two areas to scratch and sniff and allow consumers to compare the difference between Scope mouthwash and the competition’s "mediciney smelling antiseptic mouthwash".
Notice that Scope isn't the focus of the ad. This was done on purpose to change how consumers think about "the brand that shall not be named". Scope isn’t the immediate focus of this ad but luckily for consumers, they were there to save the day.
This repositioning campaign was effective in pocketing Listerine's market share, so much so, that they were forced to improve the taste of their product. Both companies were successful in identifying a problem their product could solve.
What problem can you help eradicate?
Morty Silber, CEO
Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner