Moving on, let’s travel back to the 1920s.
This decade, that many refer to as the “Roaring Twenties,” was a progressive time for our country in many respects. With the auto industry, organized crime, and tuberculosis all on the rise, this was truly a time to be alive. Amidst all of the exciting innovations, a little company you might know by the name of Listerine was about to push the boundaries of advertising. Originally, Listerine was used for everything from scrubbing floors to cleaning feet, but in 1921 this jack-of-all-trades product found its primary niche and became the mouthwash mastodon we recognize today.
The company did so by pioneering an advertising technique that has stood the test of time, which is to base your creative messaging around an innate human truth. For George Lambert, the son of Listerine’s founder, that truth was that people have bad breath. Mind you, this was a time when oral hygiene was in its infantile years, so I’d imagine the average person’s breath was potent enough to make a mothball cry. That being said, the product’s market relevance was so strong you could smell it, but George took it one step further and coined the faux-medical term, “Halitosis.” Obviously, medical words usually sound way more intense than they really are, so I do consider this to be clever, but also a blatant scare tactic. For example, “horripilation” is the medical term for when you get the chills. Case and point. So, by implementing the word, “Halitosis,” into the company’s advertising efforts, he summarized a problem that everyone “suffered” from while also providing them with an immediate solution: Listerine. As you can imagine, his faux-medical adverts mortified the masses and Listerine’s mouthwash flew off the shelves. Ultimately, this secured a foundation for the Listerine we know today. After all, you can’t spell loose morals without oral.