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National Mail Order Association (NMOA)
Direct Marketing
and Mail Order

Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response" Newsletter
Reader's Creativity Edition
Issue #10: Special Creativity Issue


1. Introduction
• 2.Creative Problem #1
• 3.Creative Problem #2
• 4.Creative Problem #3

Dear Friends,


Last issue, I asked you to solve three creative problems -- and boy, did you respond! I was delighted to find that we have some outstanding creative thinkers among our readers.

And some of your answers were far more creative than mine!

Everyone who responded will receive a free "Creative License" and the best answers win an advance copy of my new book on direct marketing.

As most of you pointed out, I did state that there were four problems and I only gave you three. But as someone said -- "That was very creative of you!"

Here are my answers -- and the best of your answers.

Creative Problem #1:

We asked you to come up with a way to make children brush longer –- at least 60 seconds. You could do anything you wanted to the toothpaste, the toothbrush, or even the bathroom.

My Answer:

The answer is a product I helped launch called "The Happy Tooth Timer." It was a toothbrush holder with a simple egg-timer built in. The child removes the toothbrush, turns over the timer, and brushes until the last bit of sand runs out.

It may have been ahead of its time -- I think we sold about 6 of them.

Your Answers:

1. Make a toothpaste that tastes better the longer it is being used. Or, a toothbrush with a dispenser of sugar free sweets in the handle, a sweet would be dispensed after say 1 minute 30 seconds of brushing.

Seems to defeat the purpose of brushing, doesn't it?

2. Simply fix a timer to the bathroom wall that will go off after around 1 minute 30 seconds, if the child is still brushing their teeth when the timer goes off everyday, they get extra pocket money.

3. Combine a small chip that would play the child's favorite rhyme/song for the time period of one minute.

4. Install a small battery/micro light to stay on for one minute so that the child could turn off the lights and brush in the dark. A meter on the brush that records the amount of minutes spent brushing to calculate the number of minutes spent brushing to be reviewed each week and graphed for the child's visual review.

5. I'd design a tooth brush to have retractable arms. These arms would hold the tooth brush onto an electric container type base. The base or holder would be battery run. The container would also hold the tooth paste. The child would remove the tooth brush, push down on the container top and the arm would go down. As the child is brushing the arms would come up in a slow time frame to equal 1.5 minutes.

6. Fancy a toothbrush pack that shows the shiny smile of your kid's favorite showbiz star (Britney Spears? Leo Di Caprio? Madonna? Kate Winslet?) and says "We calculated the number of strokes Britney (Leo, Madonna, Kate) does every morning and evening to keep her smile ever so shiny. The brush will let you and your kid know when Britney stops!"

The campaign should feature a variety of StarBrushes (promo slogan: "Buy Your StarBrush® Now and Get a StarToothpaste Free!!!") to satisfy different kids' and parents' tastes.

7. Kids love music and funny sounds, right? I'd develop one of two items: First a toothbrush that plays popular music or makes funny noises so long as the toothbrush is in motion. You could have "Barney" ones for little kids, or nSync ones for older kids.

Or maybe the toothbrush is light-activated and screams when it goes into the kid's mouth.

8. Another idea could be to have a toothbrush with a timer or one that counts the strokes, thereby creating a competitive environment for kids to compare/challenge others.

9. Create toothpaste that changes color after one minute of brushing. You could expand on this for the holidays: white toothpaste turns black (for Halloween), red (for Christmas), pink (for Valentine's Day), etc.

10. Put a mini timer in the handle of the toothbrush or in the toothbrush holder. Kids press the button when they begin brushing and chimes or a cute little ditty plays when a minute's up.

11. I have to admit, Mikey, my 10 year old gave me great feedback. I feel that within the handle of a child's toothbrush there should be a soundchip (60 second) of their favorite movie/song classics, such as, the new movie Shrek playing the theme song of the town of Duloc.

12. I'd make the toothbrush glow-in-the dark with a little tiny light on the tip so that kids could brush their teeth in the dark with the inside of their mouths lit up. Creepy and cool. They'd spend part of the time in total darkness just seeing the glowing toothbrush, and part of the time with their mouth wide open looking at their uvulas and hopefully brushing all the time.

Do you really want your kids looking at their uvulas?

13. How about a kids' toothpaste that changes color from the warm temperature inside the mouth? To start off with, the color of the toothpaste may be, let's say, pink and could gradually turn blue the longer the child brushes. It's fun, involving and colorful enough to provide endless amusement.

14. I'll give credit to my wife, Cathy, who thought of this ingenious idea. We put a tape recorder with a cassette of children's songs in the bathroom. We make the kids, who are age 2 and 4, brush through one whole song. They brush, while mom and dad sing and dance and make fools out of themselves! The kids have fun and actually look forward to brushing their teeth. I don't know how this will work as they get older!

15. Insert piezoelectric crystals into the toothbrush handle. (Piezoelectricity is electricity generated by the application of mechanical stress to certain crystals - in this case, the side to side motion of brushing.) Then wire up the toothbrush handle to a voltage tripper and connect that to a video player loaded with cartoons.

As long as the child keeps brushing, the cartoons keep playing!

16. Have the toothbrush activate a VCR or a projector in the bathroom that would play a cartoon. That way the kid can watch the cartoon, and will only see the whole thing if they actually brush for 2 minutes.

17. The Toothbrush -- musical or audio, but they have to squeeze it gently to make it play (at least a full minute of "Tickle-Me Elmo" or Joe McDermott songs).
The Holder -- a "monster mouth" for fierce kids, a "birdie beak" for gentle kids, which closes when the toothbrush is removed for 90 seconds -- starts snarling or chirping at 60 seconds -- then opens for about 10 seconds so the child can replace the toothbrush.

When it's replaced, the holder "thanks" the child. If not replaced, the holder snarls or chirps louder.

Stop snarling at your kids!

18. Put a line of colored sand in the stem of the brush that takes a minute to flow from one side of the brush to the other, thus telling the child that the minute is up.

Creative Problem #2

We invited you to come up with ideas to help your agency pitch an account in a city that was more than two hours away.

My Answer:

When my Boston-based agency first pitched the Steinway Piano account in New York, we knew we were up against a number of creative agencies right next door to them.

I needed to dramatize that we could get to Steinway just as easily as the other agencies could.

My final slide of the presentation was a blown up airline timetable.

I said, "Finally, I would like to show you the schedule of the 32 flights that go daily between Boston and New York. We can meet you as early as 7:00 A.M. or as late as 11:30 in the evening."

We got the account.

Your Answers:

1. Invite the folks from Steinway to your very cool Boston offices. Show them the city and its intense mix of cultures. Take them to Symphony Hall to see the Orchestra and the Pops. Go to the Hatch Shell. Take them to a jazz/blues bar and to Jake Ivory's for dueling pianos and Berklee for class (all featuring their pianos, of course.)

Use the educational and cultural reputation of Boston to your advantage by emphasizing that these people aren't only residents, but visitors and students and Steinway fits into and affects their lives in a multitude of different ways.

You really know Boston!

2. No slandering of the local agency - the opportunity is the ability to enjoy the dynamics of our world class service even though the distance seems imposing.

3. I would send post cards out to young married couples in the 30 yr. to 40 yr. age, with or without children. The post card would be a double post card. The post card would have a Steinway Piano with the background of the New York Sky line. A special offer, buy now and receive two tickets to Carnegie Hall.

4. Create a direct mail or e-mail piece: One of your finest works is named Boston - for a reason. (referencing Steinway's Boston Piano.)

5. The proposed campaign contends "all the best pianos are in New York -- and they're Steinway pianos -- but all the desired pianists are in Boston." The punchline of this tongue-in-cheek promotion would be that New York is suffering from (you guessed it) "pianist envy."


6. Compose a tune entitled "Steinway To Heaven." Set it to lyrics, record it and send it to them, making sure your competitors' logo is on the CD. That should get them running to you.

7. Aside from the usual "superior capabilities, hot creative, great account service" positioning...establish a "faster ROI" perspective based on Boston-based cost-efficiencies compared to NYC.

8. Get Red Sox-Yankees baseball tix for the client meeting and the promise of future tix (if client likes baseball), reaffirm the tie between Steinway ("The Boston Piano" on their web site) and Boston's musical and academic music community...

9. Use the fact that you are not from New York as an advantage. State that you bring new ideas with you because unlike the other New York ad agencies you have different influences which helps you look at the account in a different way.

10. I'd write a funny song about everything wonderful about Boston vs. New York. A little self-deprecating, a little proud, and then I'd get students from the Berklee School (four-year jazz college in Boston) to write the music. It would be played on a Steinway of course.

11. If money is no object, I'd solicit the help of the Boston Pops and a professional opera singer. Then tap into your most creative songwriter on staff to pen An Ode to Steinway. The "opera" would include a single stanza, crowing about the most important benefits or advantages of your agency. If Steinway could not attend the "show" in Boston, you could record it and bring it with you to kick off your presentation to the client.
Money is always an object!

12. Just pull a few strings!

13. Some ideas that I have are:

Have a professional pianist, in formal dress, accompany the sales pitch on a Steinway piano that tastefully bears your firm's logo.

Print copies of the sales pitch in the form of sheet music.

Have everyone from your firm who is at the pitch dress in formal dress as well, in tuxedos and evening gowns (to match the pianist), as though they were attending a classical piano concert.

Most importantly, have great ideas!!!

Creative Problem #3

This was a personal situation, which didn't turn out quite the way I expected.

Here’s the situation – I was in a car with two friends and the driver (not a friend) pulled out a bottle of blackberry brandy and begins drinking. We were miles away from anywhere, so I couldn’t get out and walk.

What would you do?

My Answer:
You could volunteer to drive, but that didn’t work in this case.

You could point out the dangers of drinking and driving, but anyone who keeps a bottle of blackberry brandy in their glove compartment probably won’t be impressed.

So here’s what I did. I took the proffered bottle, and completely finished it with one long pull. (And I’m not a drinker.)

I handed back the empty bottle to the driver, who said, "Hey! I didn’t say you could finish it!" "Sorry, man" I chuckled, and settled back for a safer ride.

But right before I passed out, the driver said, "That’s okay…I have another one right here…"

Your Answers:

1. You could tell the driver you have a rare and severe allergic reaction to blackberries. And that even the slightest smell of them causes your throat to swell leading to death!!!

2. Ask "Why not let one of us drive and you can sit back, relax and enjoy all the brandy you feel you need and we'll all make it safe and sound to our destination without risk, safe and sound?

"Or else, sorry, we'll have to knock you around until some sense comes back in to your fat head!"

3. Ask him to share. Then roll down the window and pour the brandy out. Chuck the entire bottle out the window if necessary. If he was drinking before he got in the car, you take his keys.

4. Rip it off him and pour it into the fuel tank where it belongs.

5. Say, "What? You're drinking THAT? Haven't you read the articles about how that company failed to pass health inspections?" or "Do you have any idea how many calories are in just 8 ounces of that?" (This said while staring at the driver's stomach.) Or simply, "Pull over - I'M driving."

6. You quickly ask him for a sip then down the whole bottle yourself, of course!

7. Ask for some, and when they pass you the pint, spill it all ("Whoops!! Dang, I guess I owe you some cleaning time!")

8. Claim the smell of the brandy reminds you of that time you got ****-faced in college, then describe in disgusting detail with lavish sound effects all of what that experience was like. (Caution -- may not work on certain types of people.)

9. If the drinker is male, describe how your sister or girlfriend drinks blackberry brandy for their cramps (yes, some women do) -- if the gross-out didn't work, the "women drink it for what?" approach might.

10. Use a little deceit or guilt to get the point across. For example, make up a statistic, saying, "I saw a special on cable the other night. Did you know that a third of the people killed by drunk drivers are actually passengers in the drunk driver's car??"

Or you could cite an article you were reading on a news web site that warned about possible tainted alcohol, which unfortunately is all too believable due to current events.

11. A little reverse psychology! First act as if the drinking doesn't bother you at all, but politely refuse an offer to join in. Then start "confessing" to the passengers about your "lifelong, sad struggle with alcoholism," but how you've managed to win the battle with the bottle entirely. It doesn't even bother you when people drink in front of you anymore!

Pause for a long silence.

Even the smell of alcohol has no effect on you. Demonstrate by taking the bottle and sniffing the fluid elaborately.

Then pause for another long uncomfortable silence, during which you stare intently in front of you.

Then say that you're so over the alcoholism thing that even the taste of it won't ensnare you.

Another long silence.

Now ask for the bottle again to demonstrate. Guilt for YOUR "situation" will eventually get the better of the driver and I suspect the bottle will be chucked out in no time at all.

12. There are many possibilities. (a) If you know the person and think s/he may not share or would not simply stop if you asked him/her, you could suggest that he/she really relax and enjoy the drink -- and let you drive, or the other passenger. Failing that, (b) ask for a swig then "accidentally" break the bottle or spill the contents. Or (c) ask for a drink and you and the other passenger could finish it before handing it back to the driver. Say "thank you." If desperate measures are needed, (d) ask for a drink and then throw up in the bottle.

It's an awfully small bottle...

"Pushing the Envelope" Winners

Which answers do you think were most creative?
Please send me an e-mail, voting for one answer in each category. (Just list the number of the answer and yes, you can vote for yourself) I'll tabulate the results, and the top three answers will receive an advance copy of my new book.

Send your vote to

Your Creativity License waiting for you. If you contributed an answer (even if it's not shown here, ) please e-mail me your name and mailing address, and we'll rush one off to you. E-mail

Thanks for playing, and I hope you enjoyed all the answers as much as I did!

Forward and Backward, and a Few Words about Privacy

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And once again, please let me remind you that your name and/or e-mail address will never be shared, sold, circulated, or passed along to anyone else. Thank you.



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