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Case Study - How You Can Increase Your Results by 300%

Mar 16, 2008
An experiment was held one day with caterpillars.

On the rim of a clay pot which held a plant, a biologist lined up several caterpillars so that the leader was head to tail with the last caterpillar.

The tiny creatures circled the rim of the pot for a full week. Not once did any of them break away to go over to the plant and eat.

Eventually, all caterpillars died from exhaustion and starvation.

The story of the processional caterpillars is a kind of parable of human behavior. People are reluctant to break away from the rhythmic pattern of daily life. They don't want to be different.

If you want to succeed in business, that is, to reach horizons and goals you haven't reached yet, you need to change the things you're doing now. Start doing things that are different and monitor your progress.

One of our clients who runs a retail water irrigation business changed its direction not so long ago. It did something radically different to anything it had done before. The result? Almost triple the result of its last campaign.

This business was a seasonal business and irrigation just isn't on people's shopping list during winter when it's raining. And even though they were the best in their industry, they did have competition - and their customers didn't really care which shop they were in - they just wanted their 'bits'. The public didn't always recognize the difference until they became a customer.

Establish An Identity

They needed to establish an identity that would make them stand out from the crowd. A lot of major corporations have some sort of identity or character that people relate to. McDonalds has a clown, Dulux has an old English sheepdog. Monier roofing has a black cat, Toyota Camry has a chicken and so on.

Market Research

Research showed that women aged 25-39 were the 'motivators' behind purchasing irrigation for the home, so we needed to look at creating something that would appeal to this group.

Research also showed that women could more easily relate to their childhood memories. They relish in their memories of such shows as Thunderbirds and Bill and Ben the flower pot men. In fact of 100 people surveyed, over 87 percent remembered these shows - even though they hadn't seen them on TV for years. And 99 per cent had nothing but good memories of them. It was a powerful response.

Develop A Difference

We created two personalities that people could easily relate to. We gave them names and a personality. The boy was called Ric and the girl Tic. This was a cute name derived from a popular term used in irrigation - 'Reticulation'. The characters were designed to be interactive, warm and friendly. Once made, we initiated some more research to find out how people reacted to the new characters. Again the result was very favorable.

If you visit my blog you'll see a photo of the characters. As you'll see, Ric and Tic are marionettes, have a sprinkler body and the company name prominently printed on them. Their legs are garden hose and they are two very happy characters.

Once Ric and Tic were a reality, it was time to make the commercial. Naturally a good offer was needed (always have an offer)and a script written to introduce them.


It was important to saturate the market to introduce Ric and Tic, but, as with any business, we had a reasonably tight budget. We decided the best use of our budget was to use only one TV station to get this message across. No other supporting media was used. We ran 300 commercials over a two week period.

Before we ran the campaign we asked the media to provide figures showing what they expected reach and frequency figures would be. The Media research showed 95 per cent of our market would see the ad (reach) and the would see the ad an average of 13 times (frequency). This is total saturation.

We needed saturation for two reasons. Firstly we needed to get Ric and Tic established in the market and secondly we were encouraging people to install irrigation in winter! We needed all the exposure we could get.

Focus & Measurement

An easy recall 6 digit '13' number was installed to measure results and focus all calls to a central location where the quality of each call could be monitored and controlled. This made sure all inquiries were handled professionally from one location, leaving the stores to handle their own local traffic.


Ric and Tic tripled the result of any of their previous winter campaigns. The success of Ric and Tic has shown that something different and some good focus can achieve incredible results. The store customers now know when they walk into these stores that they're in 'the right store' because of Ric and Tic.

They've created an identity - a personality for themselves that people can identify with. It helps make them unique and gives them an exceptional way to demonstrate their high customer service standards - and without the need to pay royalties for talent!

And yes, you can even look forward to Ric and Tic toys for the kids!

So next time you're thinking about what to do with your business, think about the processional caterpillars and do something different. Break away from the every day. Chances are you'll be munching on lush greens long before anyone realizes you're gone.

Good luck with your next advertising campaign!
About the Author
Rudy Labordus is CEO of award winning Perth advertising agency Breakthrough Corporation. Rudy also has his own Blog , is a sought after public speaker and creative author of globally acclaimed 'marketing ideas' toolkit Adpack: 125,000 marketing ideas for business.
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