One time, John Webster was doing a pitch for Johnson & Johnson cotton buds..

People needed educating about when and how to use them.

The main use for cotton buds of course, is to clean out your ears.

Either when they’re full of wax or when they’re full of water, say just after a shower.

The brief was to get them seen as an item in everyday use.

So John thought the best way to do that was to get them into the language.

That way it sounds as if everyone’s doing it.

A good way to do that would be to use rhyming slang.

So it would just be seen as an ordinary, everyday thing.

So John thought he’d turn the name Johnson & Johnson into a verb, and pair it up with the rhyming slang for ears.

He knew “Brighton” was short for “Brighton Pier” which was rhyming slang for ear.

So he wrote the line, “Johnson & Johnson your Brightons every day.”

And, as usual, what John did was very catchy, and we had a seamless pitch: planning, media, and creative.

Every department presented it’s section of the inexorable logic, and was received really well by the client.

It culminated in the line “Johnson & Johnson your Brightons every day.” and how it would work across all media to get into the language.

We couldn’t see any way the agency wasn’t going to win this.


It turned out the main client was a bit of an expert on cockney rhyming slang.

He said to John, “I’m afraid you’ve got it wrong.”

John said, “Pardon.”

He said, “Brighton Pier isn’t rhyming slang for ear. ‘Donald Peers’ is rhyming slang for ears, after the crooner.”

John said, “But I’ve heard people talk about their ‘Brighton’.

The client said, “Yes, I’m sure you have.”

John said, ”Well if “Brighton” isn’t short for ear what is it short for?”

The client said, “Well @Brighton’ isn’t short for “Brighton Pier”actually, it’s short for ‘Brighton Rock’.

And I’ll give you a clue, it doesn’t rhyme with ears.”

If John Webster can get it wrong sometimes, the rest of us needn’t feel bad about  the occasional ‘Brighton’ up.