The Gospel According to Febreze

I’m not much of a New Year resolution-maker but this year I took the plunge and made 7 resolutions. One of my resolutions, easily the most ambitious and arguably the most absurd, is to read 100 books in 2014. This one goal of mine actually spurred me to make the others. Remember how I want to become a better writer? Better readers turn into better writers. So I bought books on leadership, decision-making, economics, war, and sports among my usual choices of biblical studies, theology, and church leadership.

One of the more interesting books I’ve read so far this year (of the 3 I’ve read…) is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It’s witty, interesting and will thoroughly creep you out when you discover how much Target knows about your life. (They knew a teenage girl was pregnant before her own father knew.)

But my favorite part of the book was the story of Febreze. Proctor and Gamble created Febreze accidentally then hired a whiz-kid from Stanford to head up their team to test the market for an odor-eliminating spray instead of other sprays that merely masked odors for a temporary respite from the smells of life.

After many dead-ends they finally had a break-through when they followed up on some samples sent to a park ranger. This woman worked in the woods and frequently encountered skunks. Everything in her life smelled like skunk. She was single and seriously looking for a husband but every time she would have a guy over to her apartment, the embers of her newly smoldering relationship were snuffed out as if they never began as soon as the man smelled her skunk-saturated residence.


I would have ditched the skunk lady, too.

She used Febreze on her curtains, rugs, carpets, clothes, couches, etc. and it worked wonderfully! She sobbed tears of joy when she recounted her new-found love for this life-changing product. The dollar signs loomed large in the eyes of the marketing team.

Except there was a massive problem with Febreze…nobody else in the country seemed to use it except this park ranger. The marketing team went months without answers and were on the brink of getting fired and having their product scrapped when they stumbled upon something surprising.

They discovered that women frequently used Febreze after they had finished cleaning. A final touch of sorts, to top off a job well done. For freshness. The marketing team discovered that most people didn’t care about eliminating odors in their houses because, believe it or not, they had gotten used to them. And who likes admitting their house stinks? Their stink didn’t stink to them. The lady they interviewed whose house reeked from her 9 cats didn’t mind because she loved all 9 cats. She was single, too. Pay attention, ladies. However, people did use Febreze every day to spray the carpet they just vacuumed or the bed they just made and to keep the coat closet from smelling dingy. (Ironically, now Febreze’s entire marketing strategy is built around odor elimination. It just couldn’t start with that).

This totally changed P&G’s Febreze marketing approach. They threw everything out and started over from scratch. No longer would they pitch Febreze as an odor eliminating spray for homeowners with pets and/or teenage boys who had become too liberal with their use of Axe and too conservative with their use of showers.

Febreze’s massive reboot came in 1998 and sales doubled in less than 2 months. Febreze is now a multi-million dollar product and a staple in the P&G line…all because they were willing to change their old practices and thought processes for the hope of a better way.

What About You?

Maybe your life needs a Febreze reboot. 

The best change you’ll ever make in your life is finding and following Jesus. All it takes is realizing that He’s already found you through no work of your own and trusting through faith that grace is as good as Jesus says it is. Spolier: it is!

Our church is going through a sermon series called, “About Time” that’s all about changing habits now since we’re not promised tomorrow, but we have today. Check it out.

Do you have the courage to reboot your life? What changes do you need to make TODAY?

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