Well, long ago, anyway. I came up with an idea for a TV campaign for a dishwashing liquid. I considered it a truly good idea, since it passed my “Make me smile” test. But even back then I knew that if I showed it to the client, Procter and Gamble, they would look at me as if I were crazy. Which they occasionally did anyway. And I knew that if I pursued it internally at the agency, my many creative superiors, would question my sanity…and my long-term employment.
But my gut said the idea was a good one, even though it would never get anywhere. It was based on the old urban legend that said if customers did not have the money to pay for dinner at a restaurant, the punishment was to have them wash the dishes.
My couple would go into a fancy dining establishment, order lavishly, and then say, “Sorry, we have no money. Guess we’ll have to wash the dishes.” We then see them happily, and effortlessly, washing the dishes with the Thrill dishwashing liquid they had brought along with them for exactly that purpose.
Yes, the campaign was strategically on target, the benefits of the product nicely demonstrated. And it certainly could have been attention getting. But I realized it was not part of the corporate culture of the client. So I tucked the idea away, knowing that since it would never be made, or even tested, I could continue to believe in how good it was without any bothersome research or focus group to dissuade me.
So here it is, many years later, and what did I discover at design taxi? A modern twist on the idea, which of course I found delightful. Scotch-Brite—together with ad agency Grey Brazil—created the campaign, “Wash Your Bill." Upon asking for their dinner bill, diners were presented with a sponge and the opportunity to skip payment by simply washing the dishes. The commercial is below. Enjoy.
And think about how you can take advantage of an urban legend for your next good idea. Hitching your thought to something that your audience immediately understands can make your idea seem bigger than your media budget might normally allow.
Got the idea?