Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

The Brave and The BOLD: This brand’s targeted campaign not only kills germs, but also insecurities! [Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

February 5, 2021

“Brushing your teeth only cleans 25% of your mouth.”

“Kills germs that cause bad breath.”

“Kill the germs. Feel the clean.”

We know what product is being promoted when we hear these lines: Mouthwash!

Just as what we commonly see and hear in commercials, mouthwash brands appeal to consumers by saying only brushing your teeth doesn’t do 100% of the job.

However, one mouthwash brand decided to go beyond traditional advertising and created a BOLDER campaign to encourage consumers to buy its products.

That brand is…


Listerine is an American brand of antiseptic mouthwash developed in 1879 by Joseph Lawrence, a chemist based in St. Louis, Missouri.


Aside from mouthwash, the brand also sells other oral hygiene products such as toothpaste, chewable tablets, and self-dissolving teeth-whitening strips.

Connecting Mouthwash to Consumer Lifestyles

According to a study conducted by Listerine in 2016, mouthwash is a highly underpenetrated category in Asia. Topics about oral health don’t resonate well with most consumers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Using these insights, how did Listerine market its products to Asian consumers?

By launching a new campaign that positioned it not only as a mouthwash brand, but also as a lifestyle brand.

The campaign was called…

The “Bring Out The Bold in APAC” Campaign!


With the help of advertising agency J. Walter Thompson and media agency Allison + Partners, the brand first created a survey called, “The Study of The Bold.”

The survey was answered by 6,000 respondents (3,000 Listerine users and 3,000 non-users) in 6 Asian markets.

According to the responses, Listerine users lived “bolder” lives―they’re more likely to skydive, dance in public, do volunteer work, eat exotic foods, start their own company, stand up to a bully, do card tricks, etc.

Based on these statistics, J. Walter Thompson created a series of 3 ads that showed how Listerine users lead more confident lives.

The first ad shows a Listerine user who causes girls to swoon over him because of his impressively strong and pearly white teeth.

In one scene, he proves it by effortlessly cracking a walnut by simply biting it.

Woah! That could be hard… and a bit painful to the gums. However, this man showed no signs of pain after cracking the nut open.


The second ad features a salesman who can easily close a deal with his clients due to his sweet-smelling fresh breath.

How we wish closing deals was always as smooth-sailing as that!


Lastly, the third ad shows a “fearless warrior” who can confidently eat anything because using the Listerine mouthwash contributes to keeping your gums healthy.

If the Korean “Mukbang” was already trending at that time, viewers would say she’s having her own version of it because she was eating lots of delicious food, including a giant crab!


The ads were shown as TV commercials in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan during the first week of April 2016.

In the following weeks of the campaign, the ads were also rolled out in Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Allison + Partners created a tool kit to target young, thrill-seeking, and go-getter consumers through lifestyle media and influencers across the Asian market.

Each kit contained a bottle of Listerine mouthwash, makeup, other grooming products, as well as suggestions for bold activities, confidence-boosting tips, and customized media invitations to the brand’s campaign launch event.

Those who attended went through a series of “bold” activities such as pole dancing, aerial yoga, cat-walking, and a glamorous makeover to motivate them to smile with confidence and be as bold as a star.


Allison + Partners also invited influencers to join a 2-week trial program to show the efficacy of Listerine Healthy White. Each influencer received a trial pack to use every day and keep track of their experiences.

Of course, they were also encouraged to post on their blogs and social media accounts about how their teeth became progressively whiter over the 2-week period.


Philippine Celebrity and Endorser Anne Curtis (right). Photo taken on April 22, 2016 for Listerine’s “Bring Out The Bold in APAC” Campaign.

To generate more coverage about the campaign, the campaign team also engaged with experts such as dentists and psychologists to discuss the lifestyle benefits of using Listerine Healthy White.

Was Listerine’s “Bring Out The Bold in APAC” Campaign Effective?

The campaign garnered significant media impressions and coverage as well as exceeded Listerine’s expectations across the APAC market.

Here are the results of the campaign:

  • In China:

The campaign was featured in 35 articles and garnered 50 million media impressions by the end of 2016

Listerine became one of the “Must-Haves for Supermodels” according to the BAZZAR Yearly Beauty Award in 2016

  • In the Philippines:

    During the 2nd quarter of 2017, Listerine recorded…

165 articles about the campaign and a total of 340 million media impressions

A 10% increase in market penetration

A total of 22.8 million people reached through the #BringOutTheBold user-generated content

  • In Singapore:

The campaign garnered more than 12.45 million media impressions by the end of 2016

Listerine recorded a sales conversion rate of 87% during the 1st quarter of 2017

The Listerine mouthwash became the second largest SKU (stock keeping unit) in terms of volume in April 2016

  • In Thailand:

Listerine won the 2016 “Beauty Choice Award” and the 2016 Cleo “Beauty Hall of Fame” for best mouth care

Through its guerrilla marketing campaign, Listerine expanded its reach across APAC, engaged with its target market, and delivered the message that its mouthwash products are effective and reliable.

According to Tay Guan Hin, J. Walter Thompson’s Regional ECD for Listerine:

“The concept of being bold means different things to different people, all over the world. Our aim was to create a series of ‘Bring Out The Bold’ films that connected with Asian consumers. The idea was to make them laugh―and go buy Listerine.”

One thing we can learn about Listerine’s campaign?

Go beyond your brand’s “comfort zone” and use your products to inspire your target market to be their best selves!

Help boost their confidence! Use creative and unconventional campaigns to encourage them that the kind of life they want to live is not just possible, but also attainable.

Besides, wouldn’t it be more memorable as a brand to establish an emotional connection with your target market as well?

Don’t settle for less in your marketing campaigns. Aim high and think BIG!

Just like Listerine, you can contribute to your target market’s self-esteem too and make them feel great.

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Friday: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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