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AMANO Tongue Cleanser
Mano started AMANO Tongue Cleanser in 2016. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on AMANO Tongue Cleanser?
My career started out pretty conventional … qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Ernst & Young (EY) in the 1980s and then heading into Blue-Chip land.
Albeit this was the Film and Music sector, doing accounting work but in a slightly surreal environment, where famous Directors, Actors, and Pop Stars would drift around the offices.
I ended up in the marketing department of EMI Records (known as Capitol Records in the States). Moving from finance to a general management role, where I got the chance to really hobnob with the likes of Iron Maiden (once even playing darts with the band in a pub on Sunset Boulevard), Heart, Pink Floyd and the Pet Shop Boys.
And in the process, I learned some nifty promo techniques (or gimmicks) for getting the undivided attention of low attention span artists, radio DJs, and journalists. Very useful for later …
I also realized that famous people can be ‘just like us’. Open to conversation and engagement - if you adopt the right approach. Again useful for later ...
My EMI Records hours were late, often involving dining with visiting artists and managers (really that was part of my job description!), I drank and smoked way too much and often woke up with a disgusting case of toxic breath. We’ve all been there.
Which is where my school friend Jay came in.
He gave me a cheap and cheerful Indian tongue scraper to remove, or scrape away, the alcohol, tobacco and rich food from my tortured tongue before going to bed.
Hey Presto! It worked.
I would wake up with fresher breath and even my hangovers seemed to be diminished!
Who knew? Going to bed with a toxic chemical reaction raging in your mouth - all night long - isn’t perhaps the best way to get a good night’s sleep and recovery ...
Which got me wondering …
Why didn’t more people use this simple, effective and quick routine?
Afterall some 95% of people brush their teeth daily - yet less than 1% clean their tongue - in the UK and the USA. This was the 1990s remember virtually no one used a dedicated tongue scraper.
Was it down to the “Ugg that’s disgusting” Factor?
Or confusing messages from the Dental Profession and Oral Care FMCGs?
A bit of both it turns out.
Validating the concept
Luckily enough I had a friend who worked in the Eastman Dental Hospital (the leading Dental School in the UK). He helped provide medical research supporting the benefits of a simple tongue scrape, not just for removing bad breath, but also removing a major source of plaque-forming bacteria and (the real surprise) improving taste perception - particularly for the elderly (a de-clogged tongue can better register food flavors).
Another friend who worked for a Blue-Chip Oral Care FMCG intimated that more money could be made from dealing with the symptoms of poor oral care (mouthwash and tooth whitening products for instance) than actually comprehensively eradicating the causes.
So the Majors would not necessarily be interested in marketing dedicated tongue scrapers (and 25 years on this seems to still be the case).
A third friend, who worked in market research, spent 2 days with me questioning 200 or so Shoppers in Hampstead and Highgate (affluent places with what I thought was our target consumer market) on their attitudes to cleaning the tongue and what would be the circumstances to make them buy a dedicated scraper.
My conclusion after this process was:
There was a solid body of peer-reviewed medical research supporting the benefits of a clean tongue.
FMCGs were unlikely to enter the market in the short term - because it would cannibalize their more lucrative offers.
If the benefits were explained and a tongue scraper was designed to look safe and unthreatening some consumers would overcome their Ugg Factor and try the routine.
The Jeff Daniels Accountant character in the film Something Wild said;
“It’s better to live a day as a lion - than a lifetime as a Sheep''.
I agreed. With seed money from some friends and my cashed-in EMI Pension, I decided to do something wild …!
To avoid confusion:
Phase One of my AMANO tongue cleanser project was in the early 1990s. In the pre-internet and globalization age. Virtually no Westerner used a dedicated tongue scraper at this time, I was ‘market-making’ as it were. Phase One lasted 2-3 years.
I then pivoted and spent some 20 years co-founding and building a Top10 Branding Agency, working with FMCGs like, Coke Cola, Colgate and Unilever, which I exited in 2015.
Phase Two of my AMANO tongue cleanser passion project resumed in 2016. Now in the internet age. Where, as The Economist rallying cry put it;
“Niche E-Commerce offers can mint it”.