I love the Altoids story. It goes like this: In the 1990’s, Altoids was a 200-something-year-old breath mint company owned, then, by Kraft and sold in a hinged tin box. They were created in London in the 1780’s to remedy upset stomachs. It wasn’t until after World War II that Altoids were marketed (sort of) as a cure for bad breath.
They remained relatively obscure until the “grunge era” when the Leo Burnett agency was approached to create a campaign targeted at coffee drinkers. According to bloomberg.com, “The brand had a market share too small to detect” at the time. In other words, it wasn’t a huge, sexy account that all the creatives were begging to work on. According to Leo Burnett alum, Andrew Meyer, “It was an odd little breath mint not many people heard of. The budget was tiny. There would be no television shoot.” So they gave the project to some relatively new faces. Among them, Art Director Mark Faulkner and Writer Steffan Postaer. Those guys and their team created, arguably, one of the best campaigns of all time – the Curiously Strong campaign. They’re not new faces any longer. Now they’re legends in the marketing world.
The brand experienced 300% growth in the first five years; sold for a billion dollars in 2005; remained the category leader for a few decades; and won a heap of top industry awards.
I like to imagine this group of young, hungry creatives being tossed scraps and then seizing the opportunity to do great work, make history and, literally, change our industry.
This story is a constant reminder that any and every project is an opportunity to do amazing work. And I believe that Swim is – and always has been – an agency that looks at things this way. Always wanting to do great and meaningful work that helps our clients succeed is not easy. It takes courage, rationale, risk, curiosity, trust and, sometimes, a leap of faith. But it’s this kind of mindset that makes an impact no matter the company, project or brand. Everything is an opportunity.