George Lois had the ‘Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix’ account.
Aunt Jemima is owned by Quaker.
And it’s by far the biggest brand of pancake mix.
Americans eat pancakes for breakfast.
Usually with butter, sometimes bacon or sausage, always with maple syrup.
Aunt Jemima has as much of the market as all the smaller brands put together.
The brand is over 100 years old, the gold standard for pancakes.
You know you won’t go far wrong if you use Aunt Jemima pancake mix.
Which pretty much everyone did.
And they would pour one of the many brands of pancake syrup over their stack of pancakes.
George Lois told Quaker they were missing a trick.
They should market Aunt Jemima Pancake Syrup.
It’s a natural fit.
Every time people make pancakes they pour syrup over them.
So they’d sell as much Aunt Jemima Syrup as they sold Pancake Mix.
But the people at Quaker refused.
George Lois did their advertising, not their New Product Development.
It wasn’t his business what products they made.
It was only his business to advertise them.
But Lois has never been one to be told what he can’t do.
To him this was a great idea.
And he was relentless.
So eventually, just to get him off their back, they agreed to do some research into the Pancake Syrup market.
Before the research questionnaire went out, Lois read it over.
One of the questions asked consumers which brand of pancake syrup they’d used recently.
Then it listed nine brands.
The pancake syrup market, like the pancake mix market, had lots of little brands.
But, unlike the pancake mix market, it didn’t have one dominant brand.
So Lois added a non-existent brand of syrup to the ones that were already there.
He added Aunt Jemima Pancake Syrup.
Now people are never as involved with brands as researchers like to think they are.
Brands are just background.
Not many people feel strongly enough to remember which brand of pancake syrup they bought.
But casting their eyes down the list they did see one name they recognised.
Every time they had pancakes, that was the name that was prominent on the packaging.
So 89 per cent of respondents said the syrup they could remember using recently was Aunt Jemima.
Even though it didn’t exist.
And finally, George Lois was able to show Quaker that it made sense to market the brand most people thought they were already using.
Quaker launched it, Lois advertised it.
And within a year, it was the biggest selling pancake syrup in America.
Which everyone thought it already was anyway.
And that’s how brands work.
And that’s how research works.
And that how people work.
And that’s what George Lois understands, that makes him better than the rest of us.