Vintage Marketing To Women Was A-Wash In Premiums

Some people think that the only premiums that came in boxes were in cereal boxes for kids. Sure, there were those coupon books and other early loyalty programs designed to bring people back to certain department stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and other shops. But when it comes to actual free things inside boxes, most people think of the toys and surprises inside cereal boxes designed to make the kiddies beg mom and dad for the stuff. But there were other premiums, including those in products for adults. And primarily these offers were specifically aimed at those adults in charge of most household purchasing: the American housewife.

white wash no red hands vintage duz adPerhaps nowhere was this push for premiums more used than in the area of laundry detergents and soaps.

The competition was fierce in this market on all sorts of points, just as it is today, on everything from cleaning power and amount of suds (any real expert will tell you cleaning has more to do with physical scrubbing and agitation than chemicals and soap suds) to product versatility, and, because some cleaning still was done by actual human hands (something I still highly recommend), how gentle the product was on the little lady’s hands.

Those of us who are at least 40 years old may vividly recall these premiums and brands — not coincidentally because of the soap operas, which were, at their very essence, dramas created for housewives to watch and therefore pushed soaps and cleaning products; hence the name soap operas.

Lever Brothers, makers of Breeze laundry soap, partnered with Cannon towels for a luxury co-branded premium giveaway, eventually offering three sizes of towels.

breezead

three sizes of vintage cannon towels in breeze detergent

(This stuff is apparently so nostalgic, that someone just paid $39.99 for an old unopened box of Breeze with the towel still inside.)

My mom watched the CBS soap operas, as did her mother before her. As a result, our family was loyal to the family of Proctor & Gamble products. Proctor & Gamble put towels into their boxes of Bonus laundry detergent — as this fabulous musical commercial from 1960s illustrates. Note the gender split — and how the little woman’s knowledge (and sexual necktie manipulation) wins out.

Later, P&G would graduate from towels to putting glasses and china dishes with a wheat pattern (some even with gold trim) in boxes of Duz, the “does everything” laundry detergent. Incidentally, those wheat dishes were once clogging thrift shop shelves, but now, nostalgia coupled with the fascination with Mid-Century Modern, these dishes are making a comeback.

However, when it comes laundry detergent premiums, I don’t think many things are so firmly entrenched in our collective minds as Dolly Parton pitching boxes of soap with towels in them in the 1970s. While there is some debate as to whether the brand of detergent was Breeze or Duz (it was, in fact, Breeze; and we pray again to the YouTube Gods that someone can upload such a commercial!), almost everyone recalls the ads. Especially the kitsch factor.

Dolly herself admits how corny the ads were:

I remember seeing you on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” pulling out giant towels from boxes of Breeze detergent.

It was actually a bath towel — we used to have to do our own commercials on those shows, and they were so corny. But I still have some of those towels that I’ve kept through the years. Those were the days — “And you can only get them in boxes of Breeze!” And honestly, with that towel inside, there probably wasn’t more than half a box of Breeze. But people didn’t care because they were getting something free.

Corny or not, to this day, when I see a small hand towel covered in gold roses, “zeenyas!”, or other yellow flowers I instantly think of Dolly Parton. Its not just Dolly’s love of yellow roses, but those 70s yellow florals that stick in my mind. And that’s not all. Whenever I am at someone’s house and they have a similar looking towel out for use, I am convinced my hands smell like vintage detergent too. Come to think of it, that may be why I don’t like those wheat patterned dishes either.

Scarlet Letters (Part Two)

This commercial always makes me laugh; but given the issues for women this year (see Scarlet Letters Part One), I have to wonder how it plays & pays for Miracle Whip. Do they know how loaded it is, the taste Miracle Whip may now leave in mouths? While you’re getting out the vote, being adamant and so on, go buy a few jars and send the message that, like Miracle Whip, women are “not odd.”

And don’t forget your own scarlet letter!

Beauty After The Atomic Bomb?

Advertising based on fears — especially the female fears of beauty, “catching” and “keeping” a man — are nothing new. This vintage print ad for Dorothy Gray captures those horrors.

However, this vintage TV commercial for a pre-cold war cold cream preys on more than beauty fears. Circa the 1950s, this commercial for Dorothy Gray Cosmetics boasts how the cleanser removes two and a 1/2 times the radiation of other cleansers. No word on how much radiation is left behind or even it it’s enough to kill you…

Spotting Memories In Retro Radio Ads

Still nostalgic thinking about the old days in Milwaukee radio, I’ve been hanging out consuming The Halcyon Daze (I prefer using the “classic” interface for navigation, in case you visit here, Scott Beddome — aka rock’s Scott “The Kid”). I’m particularly smitten with this post of 1984 TV commercials for radio — especially this classic WKTI spot:

Not only does it feature Reitman & Mueller, and the Booze Brothers — but that’s Warren Wiegratz on the keyboards!

Having stalked Oceans for years, I’d know. My Oceans following began in 1984 or so, when my biological sister’s foreign exchange “French sister,” Christine (Oh, so tempted to talk trash about Christine and her visit; but I will behave.), came to stay with us and she wanted to hear a jazz band. So my parents took her to Sardino’s. After an early crush on Duane Stuermer (somewhere around here I have signed ticket stubs from Duane, and, possibly, his brother Daryl), I eventually forged a friendship with drummer Ernie Adams — who’s dad, it turned out, worked with my mom. Small world. It became even cozier when Ernie and and dated; but I don’t like to kiss and tell. *wink*

Don’t Tell Me I Give Feminism A Bad Name

In her post, Phony Feminists and Super Bowl Commercials, Karen Townsend says that the “outdated, outmoded, out of touch [with the] feminist movement” females who’ve “loudly bellowed” in a “snit” that CBS — a network which has blocked other advocacy groups from such an opportunity — would give a radically anti-choice group like Focus on the Family a platform to expose its extreme agenda to millions of people have “hijacked a perfectly good movement have brought shame to those of us who are feminists.”

They have given the term a bad name.

What was the snit about? CBS allowed the showing of a message ad, not allowed before in Super Bowl time. The message? A pro-life testamony given by the mother of widely known college quarterback, Tim Tebow. The silliness of the brouhaha was evident, once the audience actually saw the commercials. Not only were they so benign that if you were not paying attention you may not have realized what the message was-

I hate to interrupt Townsend, but as this is writing, not speaking, and it’s easier to read if I respond to points as they occur, I will interject. Spelling errors aside (it’s “testimony,” not “testamony”), it’s not wise to label something as a “brouhaha” or “benign” when your evidence is that the message isn’t discernible to those who are not paying attention; “not realized” is the definition of not paying attention, and inattentiveness is quite often a danger to one’s health. The only “silliness” here is that her last statement completely refutes the former statement.

Townsend continues:

…now they are complaining that one of the ads promotes violence against women. Why? Because in one of the ads – they were run in a bit of a story line – Tebow appears to tackle his mother and then she bounces right back up. Obviously done in a campy kind of humor, the loud in the feminist movement have been reduced to whining over a non-act. There was nothing to their concern over a pro-life message ad, so they had to do something to attempt to save face.

They are shameful and not at all effective.

Personally, as a subscriber to several “feminist” and/or pro-life newsletters, I didn’t read any such commentary regarding the campy tackle violence. And Townsend didn’t link to any such statements, let alone from any organizations. (I’m sure I could Google for such things — but then this conversation would veer off-course.) But I can tell you that personally, my ire over the ad aside, I am a feminist with a sense of humor who did see the mother-son tackle as “campy.” And I’m a survivor of domestic violence and other violent acts directed at me because I am a woman. Many feminists have a sense of humor. Even about “touchy” issues.

Townsend says those of us who were offended by the ad — or, more specifically, the hate group which sponsored the ad being allowed to spew its tainted philosophy while other groups are not allowed to use the network’s time and powerful audicne pull for their messages — are “shameful and not at all effective.” That’s a two-pronged argument; with neither prong supported.

To stand up for what we believe in, to point out unethical practices — especially those which will limit our message, is not shameful. (The misogynistic, unhealthy, fear-based, hate-filled, discriminatory, and down-right mean “focus on the family” that the Focus on the Family organization has is what is shameful. That organization is unmistakably not only anti-choice, but anti-birth-control and anti-sex-education, as well as anti-gay.)

Since Townsend did not define what “effectiveness” would be, it’s difficult to debate her. Obviously the campaign to motivate CBS to reject the commercial was unsuccessful. But such a “brouhaha” has also helped expose the lies in the ad. And overall the “loud bellowing” has done what Palin et all do for the far right: motivated the base. Hardly ineffective.

Townsend continues:

Sad, really. Many women who have come before all of us worked very hard to make the lives of us better today. We stand on their shoulders. These women make a mockery out of serious women everywhere.

Despite my early mention of a sense of humor, I am indeed a serious woman. A woman, even a feminist, can possess both traits.

And I thank the women and men who came before me, working to ensure that both myself and Townsend would have the right to be heard, among other things.

Unlike Townsend, I believe in a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body. I also believe in a woman’s fundamental right to control her own soul. So if, in the act of controlling her own body, she uses birth control or aborts a fetus or otherwise exercises a legal right which is revealed in some afterlife to have been a sin against a god, I trust her to handle that too.

I would just agree to disagree, but how can Townsend or anyone else say that feminists such as myself “have given the term a bad name” when they themselves seek to limit the rights, the equality, of women?

Seeking prohibition on female autonomy, free will, and health is not “feminism.”

Townsend finishes her post with this parting shot which exposes her ignorance of the actual issue at hand:

Hey, did I miss all the outrage by the loud over the Go-Daddy commercials? Now, those are demeaning to women.

The point of our “snit” was not the demeaning sexual message, or even the message of anti-choice; it was the unethical practices of CBS. First to allow such advocacy on the network when other ads from other organizations with a different point of view or agenda are not allowed. Second to allow false advertising.

Such unethical practices should offend everyone, especially those in a capitalistic society, where the free hand of the market is supposed to dictate fair play; if an organization has the funds for the ad, they ought to be able to buy it. Or, if the network’s policy is slanted or assists a specific agenda, it out to be stated clearly so that the consumer can make a clear choice about consumption — surely that’s one choice you can agree to.

Related video (or read Davis Fleetwood’s response to the Tim Tebow SuperBowl Ad):

Clap(ton) On, Clap(ton) Off

When I saw Eric Clapton hawking the new Fender Limited Edition of T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G I had a thought — well, actually, I had two thoughts. The first one was, “Oh my gawd, when did Clapton get so old?” But that one just sent me on the how-old-am-I? spiral of denial, augmented by defensive tirades and rationalizations regarding ageism. And those serve no purpose, really.

So my real thoughts were about the collectibility of cell phones.

It’s a pet peeve of mine to see things mass produced and mass marketed as “Limited Edition Collectibles.” It’s not only rather meaningless from a numbers point of view, but when it comes to collectibles, there’s gotta be something else besides words printed on a box or spoken by celebrities to drive collectors.

But then I started thinking about how ephemeral cell phones really are…

On average, we each discard one cell phone a year. If we are nice, we donate our used ones to shelters, but most of us — too many of us — just toss them into the trash like yesterday’s newspaper, thinking they are just as obsolete. (Yes, the “technology advances,” but let’s not overlook the role of throw-away consumerism plays in the competitive world of selling cell phones and their plans.)

All of this means that cell phones are as ephemeral as newspapers.

Yet newspapers are collectible. So maybe cell phones will be too. Other old phones are…

While the Limited Edition Fender myTouch 3G features the beauty of a Fender’s sunburst-finish, I doubt this, or Clapton’s endorsement, will be what might make this phone collectible. What will drive its collectibility is what drives most any other item’s collectibility: nostalgia.

If people are motivated to purchase the Fender myTouch, they’ll need to use it in order to create memories. They’ll need to spy one 20-30 years from now and exclaim, “Oh, I had one of those!” and instantly be transported back to those days…

Because while 20-30 years from now, we’ll be receiving calls like Harry Solomon — “Incoming message from the Big Giant Head!” — and cell phones will be as old fashioned as rotary dials, cords, and asking Sarah to connect us to someone in Mayberry, we’ll want the phones we once had. Not necessarily the ones that looked like pretty wooden iconic guitars.

Though, by that time, guitars of any sort may also be a thing of the past too. So who the hell knows?

I Am *Not* My Demographic (Not That You’d Know What To Do With It)

I was watching last Sunday’s Celebrity Apprentice and aside from the actual show happenings — which very much depend upon what I have to say today, though — little foam-flecks appeared at the side of my mouth. And I got that gleam in my eye that made hubby brace himself for the rant to follow. Why? Because the stupid executives from all® laundry detergent/Sun Products Corporation were idiots. Or maybe they were edited to sound like idiots. I can’t say for sure…

But when asked what their demographic was, they said “women over the age of 25.”

That’s not a demographic, people. That’s not even an answer to a math question on averages — mean, median or mode. That’s a swath so wide any marketing instructor worth her salt will smack you with your rolled-up assignment. And I think executives must be at least that high(ly educated) to get on any corporate ride.

When further pressed by the group of celebrities (who I swear had popping eyeballs to match my own frustrated amazement), the executives would only elaborate that the “viral” video used to “promote & brand the product” should appeal to their consumer, said “women 25 years old and older,” who “had children” but were “not (necessarily, I guess?) mothers” or married. So, if I’m to be kind, they maybe were saying that these women had children but don’t identify as “mothers” or don’t wish to be typecast as “mothers only”? Hell, I don’t know.

Still, what a weak bag of crap to hand teams assigned to a promotional project.

No wonder both teams failed in the executive’s eyes.

I seriously thought Melissa’s team, Athena, did a great spot — up until the midgets little people were swearing and the one walked off, anyway.

Anyway, the all® executives instructed teams to create a viral video for (an ill-defined segment of) women.

“Viral videos for women” is a stupid point all by itself.

Speaking not only with my vagina (my over 25 year old vagina, which has delivered children that I raise and so I do identify, in part, as a mom), but as a marketer, I can tell you the activity of “viral videos” is a male hobby. Women may enjoy a really good video, but we don’t have the time — and we don’t care enough to make the time to search for, watch, and relentlessly pass along at even the adorable talking cat video.

(Just one of the dozens my husband has shown me this week; which is like 10% of what he and his bother send back & forth, and maybe 1% of the volume of what either of them watches in any given week.)

How many videos do you watch and send in a week — and how does that compare to the number of videos your menfolk watch & pass? If I ask you to watch the all® laundry detergent videos “officially” made by Joan & Melissa Rivers to promote all® small & mighty® — will you? Are you going to pass any on? (If there weren’t any charity donations involved, would you?)

For the most part, we women “talk” & “shop” on the internet, and videos (along with the creation of LOLcats and other Photoshop “events”) are pull-my-finger, channel surfing time wasters that we don’t participate in.

What a surprise; women & men doing what they do in the real world, on the internet. Huh. Who knew?

I did.

And as if all of this weren’t insane enough… Then the all® execs who say that the promotional pieces are supposed to appeal to women (25 and over, with children) — and Trump who agrees with them, ushering in the dual firing action — add yet another tier on this wedding cake of idiocy. They have a man (a childless gay man) rate & assign a viral weight to the videos. Yeah, Perez Hilton knows his viruses virals, but he said he had no idea if the videos would appeal to women &/or the supposed demographic. *

WTF?

But before I get lost into any more details of Celebrity Apprentice, let me say that in general I don’t think anyone marketing understands what the hell they are doing.

Take TV — especially the dreaded Friday night slots of death. Now we hear that The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse may both have or are about to get the ax. We all know Friday night television viewing has a lower viewing audience; only the uncool, exhausted, broke, and likely parenting and so we have no social lives of our own among us (myself included) are home to watch. (And we admit it.) We all know this — there’s a frickin’ Wiki page about it for Christ’s sake. So stop expecting “must see TV” numbers on a Friday night, will ya, stooopid tv execs?

Now if you can’t understand what a grade schooler knows, please, audition for Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader and leave the biz.

At least leave the biz.

But you don’t. And because you can’t understand this simple fact of American life and how it affects your livelihood, it’s no wonder you’ve managed to kill off the longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t understand me.

I’m 44 year old woman, but I am a HUGE fan of Chelsea Lately and I get my news from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Did you know that? No, of course not. You think I’m a 24 to possibly 34 year old woman, probably a hipster; but you’re wrong. And it will only get worse as I’m (too) quickly entering the über-ignored yet fastest-growing segment of the American market.

Now what.

I don’t have — never have had — a Nielsen box (excluding that one time two times in college with one Ms S. Nielson — but we did watch some TV together…), so maybe you need to readjust your box assignments. If you did you’d see that my info wouldn’t be some anomaly but that your demographic numbers skew much higher/older than you thought, more accurately reflecting the reality of American’s viewing habits.

But you’d still ignore us. I don’t know why you do; but you do.

* By the way, I find it really odd that he made no effort to even pretend to know what women like — shouldn’t he know his own readership? There’s lots of women at his site. And I assume they, as well as Perez, wash their clothes.

Memories Of Messy Marvin

Among the Messy Marvin ads, I found this cup:

Perhaps the Messy Marvin cup brings back memories for you. Heaven knows I was too mature to drink from a Messy Marvin cup (but wapatui from a dorm garbage can was fine). I do remember the print ads and commercials; they were everywhere.

Hi, my name’s Messy Marvin.

I got that name because no matter how hard I tried, my room and my clothes were always messy. But then one day, Mom brought home thick, rich, yummy Hershey’s Syrup in the no mess squeeze bottle. And before I knew it, I was making the best chocolate milk I’d ever had. But I wasn’t making a mess. It’s fun, too. I just pull the cap and squeeze. Nothing drips, nothing spills.

Now Mom’s happy and so am I.

My room and my clothes are still a mess, but at least there’s hope.

Look for a quick shot of a very young Tracey Gold in the second commercial in this video collection:

This ad campaign pretty much rendered any kid — even a ‘college kid’ — a Messy Marvin to anyone older; thanks, Hershey’s.

And yes, the child actor who played Messy Marvin was the same kid who played Ralphie in A Christmas StoryPeter Billingsley. Which makes the Ovaltine decoder ring storyline ironic.

Apparently Billingsley too felt some disappointment with the ring; it’s not one of the film’s props that he saved. According to SFGate’s The Poop interview, Billingsley kept the BB gun, the bunny suit and the slate board.

I wonder if he kept any Messy Marvin mementos?

Gimme Back That Filet-o-Fish

Not since “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun” have I enjoyed singing along with a McDonald’s commercial so much, so many kudos to Arnold Worldwide for the latest Filet-o-Fish commercial. Here are the lyrics, so you can sing along with the video which follows:

Gimme back that filet-o-fish
Gimme that fish
Gimme back that filet-o-fish
Gimme that fish
What if it was you
hanging up on this wall?
If you were in that sandwich
you wouldn’t be laughing at all!

Normally McDonald’s falls so far behind the trend curve that they become not fun & kitschy but irrelevant (leaving Burger King to reign over kitsch & cool) but this time the decade delay in mocking Billy Bass works. Not just because you’ll find a dozen of these plastic mounted wall fish thrown back into the consumerism pond via thrift shops, but because of the incredible music & lyrics.

The music is not, as rumored to be, by the band Holy Fuck. However, if you are looking for 6 minutes and 26 seconds of similar sounding retro Casio Keyboard nostalgia (with a bit more heat & noise from the mutated rhythm), then get Casio Bossa Nova. I totally enjoyed it myself; but it’s not the music in the commercial.

Determined to find out who it was behind the fab song in the McDonald’s ad, I got on the phone with the folks at Arnold Worldwide — who, by the way, answer the phone with the perplexing, “Good afternoon, Arnold,” which prompted me to respond, “My name is not Arnold.”

Anyway, Arnold Worldwide didn’t write the tune or the lyrics, but they still get my kudos because they hired the folks who created it: Pulse Music.

So thanks, Pulse Music. I’m off to get a Filet-o-Fish. Humming & singing Gimme back that filet-o-fish all the way.

PS My dog especially loves it when I sing the “ahh!” at the end.

“My brain is a poor cocoon — the Libby’s jingle goes in like larva, but it never enters the pupa stage and morphs into a beautiful butterfly leaving me with an earworm.”

I spotted this retro doll, a promotional piece for Libby’s foods, at an antique store.

It reminded me of the following:

1) I am getting really old because more and more stuff from my time is now entering the “collectible” category and being sold in antique stores (if not, yet, actually as antiques).

2) I have a friend whose nickname is Libby; it’s a shortened form of her online user ID “Libertine”. I am forever singing, “When it’s got Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the label label label, you will like it like it like it on your table table table,” to her. It’s especially a hoot if you wiggle your eyebrows during the “you will like it like it like it on your table table table” part of the lyric.

3) When you reference “online user ID” in conjunction with “retro 70’s” stuff, your brain hurts a little.

4) No matter what you put in your brain, if there’s a jingle in there, it will over power it all and come out victorious. My brain is a poor cocoon — the Libby’s jingle goes in like larva, but it never enters the pupa stage and morphs into a beautiful butterfly, leaving me with an earworm.

5) Funny thing about recalling jingles, no matter how many times the earworm loops, no matter how many times you find yourself singing it aloud, you suddenly wonder if the version you are singing is the accurate version…

I searched the Internet for a video of the old Libby’s commercial; but none had that jingle.

I wouldn’t call all this a waste of time, an hour later I have these two gems to share with you:

First, a 1960’s commercial in which Libby’s makes up a “Sloppy Joe” dance craze to peddle product:

I’m too young to remember that one; but I’m betting if there were any of those t-shirts etc. still around in an antique store I’d want one. Bad.

I vaguely recall this Libby’s canned vegetables ad with Tony Randal:

I don’t recall these 70’s ads for Libbyland dinners…

But then, we weren’t allowed to have TV dinners, so maybe I had no dietary connection to leave a lasting promotional imprint… Those folding tray/boxes are completely fascinating!

Dogs In Advertising

An ad for Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky featuring a Scottie and a Westie, found in the July, 1974, issue of Psychology Today (I shared an article on political activism from the issue here, and sent scans of article pages on nuclear families to Shawnee too).

I don’t think dogs should drink whisky. Even if the dog treats are healthy.

But these dogs are less worrisome than the bulldogs mentioned in the latest T-Mobile commercial. Have you seen it? The grumpy guy is complaining that he doesn’t like commitment, so the wife says, “We’ve been married 40 years.” He retorts it’s only been 38. And that he doesn’t like sticking with the same thing, to which the wife replies, “We’ve had 11 bulldogs, all named Steve.” What the hell are they doing to their dogs?!

I’m no math geek, but that’s like what, 3 years per dog?

I could get a calculator & do the math, but I keep loosing my calculator. I should have saved one of those giant calculators I sent out for Valentine’s Day for myself.

I’m not exaggerating; the calculators were huge. I knew you wouldn’t believe me, so I took pictures. See, just one is the size of my Cairn Terrier (named Toodles Squirrel-Face Davidson III).

I gave them to folks double-dog-daring them to lose them. They even can be hung on the wall. (Just $3.99 each at Hobby Lobby — because you know I love the Hobby Lobby.)

Huh. I guess I just made my own ad featuring a dog.  But my dog wasn’t drunk.  And she’s well over 3 years old too.