A Familiar Problem ‘Solved’ By Lifebuoy Soap
Anyone who spent time in a hospital as the 19th century ended, whether as a patient or a visitor, was assaulted with the smells of pine tar, Lysol and carbolic acid, which were used as disinfectants. The firm of Lever Brothers built on this recognition when it introduced its new product, Lifebuoy Soap, in 1894.
It contained a hearty dose of carbolic acid, and Lever appealed to the customer’s belief that he would be washing himself really clean if he used this product.
Marketing people in the organization kept alert for areas where there were epidemics, and immediately responded with local advertising wherever one broke out. The ads stressed “sanitary - antiseptic - cleanser - disinfectant.”
Moving with the times, by the 1920s, the company began to stress the effectiveness of Lifebuoy as a beauty soap. The shift was even more pronounced in the Depression of the 1930s, where it appealed to the theme of avoiding social disgrace.
Social disgrace to Lever Brothers in that case meant “B.O.” Using a comic-strip format for printed ads and a rolling fog horn booming “B.O.” on the radio, it made one feel that the only way to be really safe in public was to wash daily with Lifebuoy.
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