8 Strange Ideas That Helped Famous Companies Earn Millions

8 months ago

Sometimes, very unusual and weird ideas can become gold mines for those who are ready to take a risk. And many directors of famous companies proved it with their examples.

1. “Listerine” and the right advertisement

At the beginning of the 19th century, Joseph Lister invented a product for sanitizing the mouth after surgeries. With the support by Lambert Pharmacal, several decades later, “Listerine” was a brand known worldwide. And in the 1920s, the income of the company grew from $115,000 to more than $8 million.

The company was successful thanks to a commercial based on Gerard Lambert’s idea. He wanted to focus on treating chronic halitosis — a disease that didn’t exist before “Listerine” was invented. This was one of the first cases when customers were buying something they didn’t need at all.

2. Cleveland Clinic and tobacco

In 2007, Cleveland Clinic in the US changed its HR policy and stopped hiring smoking people. Some people may think that this is discrimination, but smoking has a negative effect on companies because employees work less. The bad habit is also bad for the employees themselves who have to spend about $3,391 a year on health care. And a part of this money has to be compensated by the employer.

3. UPS and the right turn

UPS is a huge American package delivery company from Atlanta, Georgia. You might have noticed that turning left in a right-hand traffic system is much harder and takes much longer than turning right. More than that, in such situations, car accidents are a frequent thing. So, the UPS management decided to do something about it. Since the ’70s, they have been planning their routes in a way that allows them to avoid left turns.

Today, in 90% of cases, the company’s trucks turn right on intersections. And they save 10 million L of fuel, or about $300 million a year. Besides, because they drive less, UPS cars produce less CO2 emissions.

4. Lego and fans

At the beginning of 2000, the famous Danish company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Even experienced designers with a great education who worked on new toys couldn’t help. At that moment, Lego managed to survive by making a contract with Star Wars Universe to create toys.

A bit later, the new CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, started working on the situation. One of his genius ideas was simple: fewer specialists and more fans should create the design of toys. After such a bold move, Lego survived the crisis.

5. United Airlines and 3 little things

In this American company, the management made a decision to remove wipes from most short flights. Then, they made the movies shown during the flights shorter and replaced grapefruit juice with orange juice that is much more popular. As a result, United Airlines saved $200 million.

6. Amazon and resigning

Would you leave your job if you were offered $5,000 for your resignation letter? If the answer is “yes,” it means this job is not for you and you can’t be very useful to the company.

This unusual approach to saving effort and money is used to make people think about what they do now and what they really want to be doing. People who are not interested in the life of the company resign. And the ones who decide not to resign become more goal-oriented because they consciously made a choice to stay.

7. Texas and audit

At the beginning of the ’90s, Texas was in a long crisis that could lead to a substantial increase in taxes for the people. Then, the legislative assembly asked the Texas controller John Sharp to find a way to decrease the expenses. The politician started the Texas Performance Review to audit the government work and has saved about $10 billion for the country over the last 10 years.

There were some extravagant ideas among the ones that Sharp proposed. For example, one of them was to remove one lamp from a soda vending machine. It didn’t influence the look of the machine, but Texas could save $200,000 a year on electricity.

8. United Airlines and one ounce

And again, the management of this company did something unusual. They decided to reduce the weight of the magazine that passengers can read during the flight. But the weight of one magazine was reduced just by one oz. It is amazing but this simple trick allowed United Airlines to reduce the weight of planes almost by 10 lb. Now, the planes need less fuel to make a flight which means that they save $290,000 a year.

Bonus: McDonald’s and a conspiracy theory

One person who often visits this restaurant noticed that sometimes the staff don’t add an additional piece of cheese to burgers. This cheese costs about $0.30. User IseeSuns calculated that if McDonald’s “forgets” it at least 10 times a day, the company will save more than $39 a year. Of course, it’s quite hard to verify this information but it’s something to think about.

Please note: This article was updated in March 2023 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


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