There's a story going around the traps, it may be apocryphal, but it also could well be true. If it is true it's a story that all marketers should take note of!
Sir Joseph Lister
"Years ago in the nineteenth century there was a company specializing in agricultural chemicals and they were very good at it.
It seems that their chemists happened across or developed (I'm not sure which!) A new floor scrubbing compound which had the added benefit of disinfecting the surface as well as cleaning it. The distilled version of the same product was used, and prescribed, for the treatment of gonorrhea.
After some years, someone had the idea of actually using it as disinfectant and marketing it as one. It was an immediate success. They now had two products, chemically identical, sold under different names, both selling like gangbusters.
Some time later, and do not ask me how (If I told you I had to kill you!), No. I really do not know the how's and why's it, but someone tried it out on a sore throat that they were suffering. It was deemed to be mildly effective in ameliorating the sore throat but more interesting was the fact that their bad breath had disappeared!
Appropriately, as a mouthwash this floor-washing liquid was Ace! Since the US Federal Government soon determined that it had no good effect on sore throats and colds, the company was forced to disavow its' previous advertising promoting that use.
And this where the really good part of the story comes in.
They could not really sell the mouthwash as mouthwash! Everybody had bad breath !, It was completely natural, the gases produced by the internal combustion engine we call our stomach produces exhaust gases. If they do not come out explensively at one end, they tend to see out from the other end!
Their marketing people decided that they had to sell this product, the market for it would be wonderful, only if it could be demonstrated that bad breath was caused by some disease or affliction. What did they do? In the 1920s they dragged an obscure medical term out of the literature and popularized it.
"In just seven years, the company's revenues rose from $ 115,000 to more than $ 8 million."
And what was the source of all that money? Halitosis! It means bad breath! That's all it has ever mean! Now that people could accurately claim to have Halitosis, obviously a medical term, the Company could sell a product that appeared to help.
Joseph Lawrence was the man who developed and sold the original product, he named it after the person who has been called "The Father Of Modern Surgery", none other than Sir Joseph Lister.
The product – Listerine! "
It just goes to show you what can be done with a little inventive marketing!