Let us dive into it then. I should start by telling you the mysterious subject is actually a product. It's a common household item that was once used to clean floors, typically in commercial applications, and the great part is, you've probably put it in your mouth... voluntarily! We can move on from the distasteful thoughts about Lysol-lemonade for a moment to remind you that this product, the one you may have soaked your tongue in, was also marketed as a cure for gonorrhea (and yes, I had to look up the spelling of gonorrhea for the sake of this post.)
So here we have it, a product that, without changing it chemical composition, or even it's flavour, did all this! What could it be? None other than friendly bathroom-counter-top Listerine! Named for the father of sterilization, Joseph Lister, who promoted sterilization for surgical tools and conducted the first documented sterilized surgery, Listerine has a very, uhh...interesting background. Originally, near the three-quarter mark of the 19th century, "Listerine" was widely used to sterilize floors in shops and hospitals (and even to sterilize the tools and trays). Somehow down the line they discovered, I hope not by freak accident, that it cured gonorrhea also. Likewise with its multitude of purposes it became a widely used item, but when sales started to slip, the product was then diluted and sold as a mouthwash.
You might ask then: "Who in their right mind would want to use a floor-cleaner, STD cure (which was also periodically relabeled as a scalp treatment to prevent dandruff) as a mouthwash after brushing their teeth?!", and the answer is really quite simple; Scared Americans!
Yup! It was the hype-fearing yanks who are credited for believing what I might deem one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever! You see, sales were quite poor for the product in 1914 when it was launched in the USA. So what did the manufacturer do? Did he make the product less intense, more tolerable to use? Nope. Did he make it more affordable, or more easily accessible? Not a chance. What he did was something that has become an american tradition! He took the product, studied it for a short while, then decided he'd lie to everyone and tell them they NEEDED it! (Imagine if the SlapChop guy was around for it!) Plain and simple, it was now a CURE! (No, not for gonorrhea this time...) He would just need to convince people they has a disease, and then cure it!
So this, in short, is why Listerine has made my awesome list. It's a success story that could only have happened in America. It really goes to show you that anyone can sell anything, and with enough marketing, people will line up to buy it by the case. So the next time you're brushing your teeth, take a moment to remember where that bottle of Listerine came from... and the next time you're pitching a raise to the big-guy in the suit, remind yourself; A man once sold the whole world a gonorrhea-curing, floor-cleaning, dandruff-solving liquid...and convinced them to gargle it every morning before leaving the house. With the right confidence, you can pitch anything!
Success isn't defined by the idea, the concept, the notion... it's defined by how many people you convince that you've succeeded.
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