On the first day of the Advertising Copywriting class I teach I gave to each student a simple assignment. Write down on a blank piece of paper the following…”What I hate to do most is….” Then I told them to complete the sentence, sign the paper, and hand it in to me. I told them to be honest. It didn’t matter to me if the thing they hate the most is school, teachers, or doing assignments. They all smiled and complied. I then collected the slips of paper and tucked them away into my folder — and didn’t say a word to them about why I asked them to do it.
At the mid-term point of the course I walked into class and pulled out the “hate to do most” slips of paper. I told each student that this was their term project topic. They were to create a product or service that solved the problem of what they dislike doing. Then they were to create a compelling marketing and advertising message that would persuade people to purchase that product. In other words, they were to be entrepreneurs.
This past week the students presented their new product ideas. There were some brilliant concepts that solved a host of problems but one of them stands out to me. One of the students had written down: “What I hate to do most is waking up the next day with a ferocious hangover!” Now that’s honest.
She came up with a product and 20-page description of an herbal remedy for hangovers that would be all-natural, fast-acting and relatively inexpensive. All in all it was an impressive and thought-through presentation.
When she was finished I told her that there is actually a terrific way that already exists to not only cure hangovers but prevent them in the first place. She looked at me wide-eyed. I told her it had been developed back in the 1930s and millions of people around the world used it. She looked at me really wide-eyed. I said, “If you don’t want hangovers just don’t drink alcohol in the first place.”
The whole class now stared at me wide-eyed and dumbfounded. The student then started laughing and said, “Not drink? Oh Professor, you’re so funny.