THE FIRST 100 YEARS OF JWT & UNILEVER 1902-2002: Private View 1950s

Brands, like people, are judged in part by the company they keep. Already in its 24th year, the Lux Toilet Soap film star campaign featured Zsa Zsa Gabor in the US and Kay Kendall in the UK. From the very beginning, there were those who said it wasn't credible; but that was never the point.

Lux Toilet Soap, at heart a simple soap, has gained immeasurably, and all around the world, from its association with these remote and eternally fascinating figures.

For Lux Liquid Detergent, the enemy then was not other washing-up liquids but existing laundry detergents. Hence: "One canful of this new Lux Liquid Detergent will wash more dishes than several boxes of the most popular laundry powder." And in a can: "Won't break like a bottle. Won't get soggy or take up room like a box." Soon, plastic packaging was to change the game forever.

If you wanted to help a new creative team (or a new brand manager) to understand the Persil brand in 1957, you could do worse than show them "Hopscotch" and leave it at that. Everything's there. Alone in its market, Persil granted more credit to its users than to itself: "When a mother cares, it shows." Yes, a whiteness claim: but not just whiteness for its own sake - whiteness as evidence of being good at the job of being a mum. By the standards of the time, wonderfully naturalistic setting, casting and direction. Music. The small boy flapping his arms at the end may not have been scripted; but everyone knew it was right to retain it.

And note the symmetry of the conclusion: "Persil washes whiter - and it shows."

In How to become an Advertising Man, James Webb Young asks: "When attempting to overcome inertia, should you choose to feature the penalty or the reward?" Chlorodent initially plumped for the penalty: "Before you are kissed under the mistletoe, it's best to get rid of 'morning mouth'." The reward came later: "Enjoy that wonderful, clean fresh Chlorodent feeling!"

In 1958, Oxo was suffering from having had a good war. Like dried egg, it was seen as a substitute for the real thing; and when the real thing returned (meat had come off the ration a few years earlier) Oxo's reputation took a deep dip. This is one of the brand's first commercials in a campaign that more or less saw out the century. Katie and her first husband Philip (her second husband was also called Philip but nobody seemed to mind) being bright, middle-class, affluent and, above all, young. It took a little time to work - but Katie and Philip and a great many genuinely useful recipes restored Oxo to greatness.

Lux Flakes has always been given a sort of instant integrity by its famous pack. Couple that with its ability to satisfy Betty Grable's nylons (and thereby Betty herself) and you've got an unbeatable proposition.

Finally, Pond's Lipsticks. What a wicked advertisement! "Dreamy Pink can lead to Mink." A bit of a culture-clash with Pond's Cold Cream, but it's all the better for that. Take out the dated typography and the illustration could live quite happily today.

- Jeremy Bullmore worked with Unilever brands from 1954-1987. He was a writer and TV producer on Lux Liquid and Dove, creative group head on Oxo, Persil, Sea Witch, Wood Nymph and Harmony. As creative director of JWT London (1964-1974), he was distantly responsible for everything but particularly close to Persil. As chairman (from 1975), he kept a watchful eye and provided occasional pontifications.

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