One role of social media is to resurface old ads, so today is the 67th anniversary of the first TV commercial to air in the U.K., created by Y&R London for Gibbs SR toothpaste. The 68-second spot has everything: To convey tingling freshness, the product is encased in a block of ice in a rushing stream. Cut to a 1950s woman brushing her teeth. Then the science, with a graph to show tooth decay, followed by a picture of a bottle of a lethal-looking chemical labeled sodium ricinoleate (the SR in Gibbs SR).
The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority, better known for issuing statements every Wednesday with its rulings on ads consumers have complained about, tweeted the spot today.
Sodium ricinoleate fans can still buy the toothpaste, now owned by Unilever and sold, except in North America, under the name Mentadent SR. According to Unilever, which posted the ad on YouTube, competition was fierce for the first TV spot: "The commercial was the winner in a lottery against 23 other advertisements, including those for Guinness, Surf, National Benzole, Brown & Polson custard and Summer County margarine."