Brand Names From My Childhood (Because I Said So)
– jim young
Recently I read an article about advertising and marketing to children. And it got me wondering how many products I buy today that were influenced by commercials I watched in my childhood. Television was still in its infancy in the 1950s but even then advertisers must’ve realised the potential value of this target group.
First of all I had to search back into the cobwebs of my mind to try to remember what commercials and advertising I remember from the 50s and 60s.
Store brands were available back then as an alternative to the brand names, but there weren’t any “no-name” brands to choose from.
I can remember a couple of Pixies that used to clean sinks with – was it Comet or Ajax? And if we went to look in my cupboard now, you’ll find Comet there.
I had to Google to refresh my memory of these commercials. It seems those cute little singing Pixies promoted Ajax while Josephine The Plumber was the spokesman for Comet. For what it’s worth – I always hated Josephine the Plumber and her squeaky, annoying voice. So I guess there really is a reason for so many irritating commercials on television.
For canned vegetables, I will usually select a no-name brand, but when going for a brand name, it’s almost always “Ho-Ho-Ho Green Giant”.
I’ll probably reach for Mr.Clean off the shelf unless I notice the price difference in the brand beside it.
The unlikely bald headed, single ear-ring wearing Mr. Clean was soon recognised as a sex symbol and was an early example of using sex to sell to women.
But don’t read too much into that. I am a hetero-sexual with no latent homosexual tendencies. Of course feeling the need to include that here will likely raise some suspicions among some of you so let’s just move on.
I always wanted my Mom to buy Ivory Soap because it looked like a lot of fun on television. It was the only soap “So Pure – It Floats!” I knew Mom couldn’t be persuaded to buy Ivory based on it’s “fun” value so I took a more intellectual approach (I was about 6 at the time) and pointed out to Mom that Ivory Soap was “99 44/100% pure.” I didn’t really know what that meant then and I still don’t. But it seemed to be a pretty darn good reason to buy soap.
Mom just told me that it didn’t really clean as well, and in fact Zest was the only bar soap that really cleaned and didn’t leave a film on your skin. I don’t know where she got her information but I couldn’t argue with those kinds of facts so that was the end of that.
(For years after, I often wondered why my Aunt Chic, whom I had always regarded as a drop-dead gorgeous model, could walk around with a film on her skin because I noticed at her cottage one summer that she used Ivory soap.)
We don’t use hand soap much in our household now so the large pack size we get at Costco lasts a long time. As I wasn’t sure what brand we use, I had to check under the bathroom sink to see. It’s Ivory. But to be truthful, hand soap purchases are my wife’s decision. Prior to this marriage though, I always bought Zest.
And while under the sink I noticed we have Crest Toothpaste while the toothpaste commercial that inevitably comes to mind from the 50s sang “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”
Again, my mother was the influential factor here, telling me that Crest was the only toothpaste that really cleaned your teeth and prevented cavities. (Although there was no suggestion that the other brands left a film on your teeth.)
Did my mother have some kind of an “est” fixation? And perhaps advertisers should be looking at the potential value of a mother’s influence in marketing. Or do they already know about that stuff?
Cigarette ads were commonplace on television in the 50s and the one I remember most was the ever-suave Fred Davis, moderator of Front Page Challenge, looking so sophisticated with his DuMaurier Cigarettes.
Both my parents were heavy Players smokers but when I took up smoking as a young teen, my preference was for the cool, smooth taste of a menthol cigarette. But as that only lasted 1 day, I don’t remember the brand.
I remember Wonder Bread commercials and seeing Miss Sunbeam Bread on the sides of delivery trucks. I think it’s Dempster’s bread we use today because it’s the only Costco option for just plain old white bread.
Special K, the crowing Rooster from Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and the Snap-Crackle-Pop of Rice Krispies always jump to mind when I think of a wholesome and good cereal. But it’s Frosted Flakes – They’re Grrrrrreat! for something fun. I still consider Cap’n Crunch as one of the “new” cereals because it didn’t hit the market until the 60s – about the same time as the Beatles arrived when I was just starting to rebel and find my own identity.
I don’t eat cereal anymore, but if I did, it would likely be one of those 5 brands.
Today it seems that most of my decisions are based on price or availability of the particular brands sold at Costco where we do the bulk of our bulk shopping. Of course the Costco influence is indirectly related to the price factor.
But when all things else are equal, there are many brand names that can be directly traced back to my childhood influence of TV commercials.
Or perhaps it’s more so due to the most famous line of Moms from all over the world, “because I said so.”
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