Back in my agency days I worked on many worldwide Consumer Packaged Goods brands. One of the first brands I worked on was for Raid by SC Johnson. Raid is one of those brands that was created in the great era of advertising. The Raid Bugs and its famous last word…RAAAIIIIIIDDDD!, was created by a man named Don Pegler. He was an illustrator that created his famous bugs at the time of the Pilsbury Doe Boy and Mr. Clean. Now, this is way before my time, but when I started working on Raid, Don Pegler was still on staff at the agency and when we needed advice on his iconic character he was available for sketches and development.

I got an assignment for a billboard and I thought it would be so cool to show a giant bug, so big it was hanging off the billboard, with a giant toe tag on it’s toe that flapped in the wind. On the toe tag was just the Raid logo. I pitched it to my Creative Director and he loved it and said go for it! So, naturally I wanted it to be the best and biggest bug ever so I went to Don for help. I showed him my sketches and excitedly told him my BIG idea. He listened and paused for a bit. Is he thinking, wow! this is so cool having a huge billboard with my bug? This girl is good? No…he looked straight at me and said, “But we don’t show the bugs dead…they just blow up”.

I thought for a moment, what? Oh yeah, you never do see the bugs actually dead in all the animated commercials. Is he insulted? Is he mad? Does he think I am just another young hot shot creative changing his creations? But he does have a point. Am I straying too far from the brand? Does this mean my idea is dead now too? I thought about it, and it just so happened to have just turned the year 2000. I said to him, “I know that you have never drawn the bugs dead before, but this is a new millennium, we can take our bugs to a new level that they have never been seen before…we can give the audience what they have been waiting for, showing their objective…killing the bug dead!”

He looked at me again and smiled and said, “ok, how big are we doing it?”

That was my first lesson in always looking back to stay true to a brand but always look to the future and adapt your brand to continue it’s legacy and mission.

That billboard was recognized as top creative for the year and became part of the worldwide agency portfolio of work for that year. That’s how you #PutYourBrandToWork

By Michelle Talbot, CMO, Browne & Brand

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