THE ANSWER ASKS THE QUESTION
We are so used to answering questions, we forget that may not always be the most creative way to go.
To merely answer a question.
Real creativity may be to get upstream of all that. To question the question.
We tend to run creativity along the lines of supply and demand.
The brief is what’s demanded.
The creative work is done to supply that demand.
And, in classic economic theory, demand dictates supply.
But sometimes, true creativity doesn’t work like that.
It was named after Joseph Lister, who pioneered the use of antiseptics to kill germs.
And originally, that’s what it was used for, to sterilise surgical instruments.
Then, later on, as a treatment for gonorrhea, then, later still, as a floor cleaner.
Obviously sales weren’t great.
Because those aren’t mass-market areas.
The product was solving problems most people didn’t have.
If you want to sell large amounts, you need to find a mass-market problem you can solve.
Or, if you can’t find one, create one.
So Gerard Lambert decided to create a problem for Listerine to solve.
He took an obscure medical term, and popularised it as a problem.
In those days, in America, people smoked cigarettes, and cigars, and pipes, and drank whiskey, and ate strong foods, often full of garlic.
Since everyone’s breath smelled of something, no one really noticed.
But Gerard Lambert decided to capitalise on people’s insecurities.
The brilliant realisation was that no one could smell their own breath.
So they couldn’t tell if it smelled bad.
It was an area of doubt.
And Listerine was the answer.
In his advertising, dentists stated that half their patients had halitosis.
They’d recommend Listerine as a cure for halitosis.
Previously no one had ever heard of halitosis.
But, in a single campaign, you’ve got a problem you didn’t know you had, and you’ve got the cure.
And during the first 7 years of that advertising, sales increased over 70 times.
Because, before Listerine sold mouthwash, they sold halitosis.
Years later, in England, Rowntree wanted to market wafer thin squares of chocolate, with a thin mint filling.
They were too small and expensive to be sold as ordinary sweets.
So JWT created a completely new market, a need for this product to satisfy.
The problem they invented was what to serve your guests after dinner.
When everyone’s sitting and chatting, over port or brandy.
The advertising showed the rest of us something we’d never see.
What the sophisticated elite do after dinner.
They all pass around the after dinner mints.
Except they don’t.
JWT invented the need, and then provided the solution.
After Eight Mints.
Now this product wouldn’t be seen as just expensive chocolates.
Now it was seen as a sophisticated taste for discerning adults.
Today, Rowntree sell over a billion After Eight Mints a year, worldwide.
JWT successfully created a need, and a solution.
So successful, that the rest of the world believes it too.
The World Cup was held in Germany in 2010, and a town famous for making aromatic products, created a ‘smells tour’.
For Italy they chose the smell of pizza, vodka for Poland, Coca Cola for the USA, pina colada for Brazil, Chanel No 5 for France, cheese for Holland, and After Eight mints for the UK.
Not only do the British now believe that’s how sophisticated people behave.
The rest of the world now believes that’s how sophisticated British people behave.
Rowntree and Listerine didn’t just answer the question.
They created a new question.