Businesses that find themselves in situations where their category is facing a serious challenge to growth often try to whether the storm until the issue is tackled by another player, interest organisation, or simply a re-shift in culture. The reason is that there is a reaction to meet quarterly targets that creates a dynamic whereby investment in longer term prosperity is not championed.
In Australia, there was a growing trend of parents not taking their children to see eye doctors and thus not getting those in need of care the proper treatment. This in turn affected retailers who specialise in eye-care. OPSM is one of them. However, instead of engaging in sales tactics, OPSM decided to deal with the cultural issue head on. How? They made eye tests entertaining and delivered them through a means that would not only take it to the homes of parents, but also make them some money in the process. The idea was to create a storybook that doubled as an eye-test. It was called “Penny The Pirate”. The brilliance of the idea was that the book could be distributed not just in OPSM retail stores, but also in schools, libraries, and book stores. Look at the case study.
Creativity is a brilliant lever to utilise when facing serious institutional and growth issues to a category. One of the most inspiring examples of this The Empowerment Plan in Detroit. This is not your average company. TEP is a company created by a young woman who is the child of addict parents. As such, she was very familiar with homelessness. She was fortunate to get a scholarship to a school, and as part of one of her courses she tried to deal with the lack of shelters available to keep homeless people warm at night by developing a coat that doubled as a sleeping bag. The idea was brilliant and helped a great deal. However, the girl was made aware that creating coats was only putting a bandaid on the issue – what was needed were jobs. As a result, she employed those women on the street for whom she was making the coats. Now, thanks to the company many woman are in proper homes. Absolutely brilliant. Have a look at the video.