Subject: Brain Wedgies for bug spray marketers
470 North St.
Fax: (513) 555-9000
March 17, 1998
77 N. Washington St.
Boston, MA 02114-1927
Dear Mr. Breen
Despite toiling in such unglamorous businesses as bug spray and toilet bowl cleaners, S.C. Johnson & Son has had three of the top ten new product concepts in the past two years, as rated by AcuPOLL, a Cincinnati market research firm.
How do they create fresh ideas for very old product categories? “Brain wedgies.” That”s what Marc Marsan, president of Sawtooth Invention Company, calls tactics he uses to shock corporate clients out of creative complacency. Sample brain wedgies include having male executives walk around wearing sanitary napkins or masked marketing executives describe how they use toilet paper. Marsan also mixes into his sessions thinkers from other fields, such as former football coach Sam Wyche, inventor of the no-huddle offense.
I”ve been invited to go through one of Marsan”s product development sessions with S.C. Johnson–on the ground rules that I can”t discuss specific product ideas before they go to market. Still, I believe the story of a seemingly staid company using shock tactics to spark creativity would fit with Fast Company”s focus on how smart companies work.
I”m a Cincinnati-based freelance business writer who covers consumer goods for Advertising Age and other business publications. I know it”s pushy to get demanding in a story pitch, but, because of the imminent approach of the session and S.C. Johnson”s natural suspicion about reporters without firm assignments, I would like to hear from you by March 20. I can provide clips by e-mail or fax at a moment”s notice if you”re interested.
Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Jack Neff is a freelance business writer and a co-author of the Writer”s Digest Guide to Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript.