Effective advertising campaigns of yesteryear


I went for my six-month dental check-up the other day, same dental office I’ve gone to since they pedaled to power the drill. Personnel has changed, but the same outfit.

You know the routine. This lovely young girl named  Sunup or Sunrise or something comes in and spends an hour digging and scraping all around in my mouth. Then she and another lady go through this religious chant or something: “Four, four, two, two, one, two, two” … and on and on like that.

Finally the man himself comes in. He speaks and immediately looks into my mouth. “Hmmm. Uh huh. Hmmm.” His scraper says, “Better look at number 14.” “Hmmm,” he says. “Everything looks pretty good. You’re free to go.”

So, after a hearty sigh, I pull myself fully awake and climb out of the comfortable chair-bed and get ready to leave. There is always one more thing: I always am handed a little poke that contains a toothbrush, a cute little floss container, and a tube of toothpaste.

… Except this time they forgot to give me my goody bag. Oh, the agony, when I got home and realized they had skipped me. The sorrow, the gnashing of (clean) teeth.

That’s OK. I’ll make it. I still have the old brush from last time. But it hurts. After all these decades. No goody bag.

However, the episode did remind me of one of the great advertising campaigns of all time. Shortly after I entered the first grade, we were each given a little poke that contained a tooth brush, some kind of soap, and a tube of Colgate toothpaste.

Think of the enormity of this thing. If they gave it to first-graders in Vernon Elementary School, they must have given  the same thing to first-graders all over the country.

I can imagine some of the big wheels at Colgate-Palmolive-Peet howling, “Why, we can’t afford that. Think of the tons of toothpaste we’re just giving away.” But some genius prevailed and they gifted first-graders everywhere (I suppose).

Anyway, it certainly worked in our part of the  country. Daddy and Mother bought nothing but Colgate for the rest of their lives at home. (Before that, we had used baking soda and salt.)

And…  Remember when smoking was good for you? Oh, yeah. Philip Morris advertised on the radio and in magazines, “More doctors recommend Philip Morris than any other cigarette.” And Johnny hollered, “Callll forrrr Philipppp Morr-eeese.”

Old Gold sniffed, “Smoke Old Golds and get a treat, not a treatment.” Old Gold sponsored the Woody Herman show. Old Gold claimed that apple honey made their cigarettes better. Woody’s First Herd made a classic big band record called “Apple Honey.”

Another sponsor was Wildroot Creme Oil. In  addition to a cute little commercial that Woody and his bass player Chubby Jackson would do – “You better get Wildroot Creme Oil, Charlie. It keeps you hair in trim … – the Herd recorded another big band classic, “Wild Root.”

I used nothing but Wildroot until I no longer needed such things.

Other great campaigns came along: “Watch the Fords go by,” and “There’s a Ford in your future,” and “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” And “When better cars are built, Buick will build them.” And for Packard, “Ask the man who owns one.”

And on and on and on. Great slogans and catch phrases. But none better than the current green lizard. He’s priceless.

Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.


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