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Wisk was a new brand in the 1950s. It was the first heavy-duty liquid detergent for laundry usage. Major competitors (all powders) were Tide, Cheer, Rinso.

The brand did poorly after several years and several ad campaigns, despite excellent blind product tests. BBDO was the agency of record. Jim Jordan, the head copywriter, came in one day with a new campaign-"Ring Around the Collar."

There was little enthusiasm at Lever, but great conviction at BBDO. Given the state of the business for Wisk, we agreed to test the new campaign in a small market. Result-great success!

Wisk went national with the Ring Around the Collar campaign. Sales skyrocketed. A failure became a success. Note:

The product was the same as before.

The price was the same.

The package was the same.

The distribution was the same.

The promotion was similar.

Only the ad copy changed. Ring Around the Collar made Wisk a successful brand.

Another product, Dove bar soap, was developed by Lever chemists in the late '50s. It was a revolutionary product and was presented to the marketing group and ad agency ( Ogilvy & Mather) by the Lever chairman, a chemist who had risen through the scientific ranks. Included at the meeting were the brand manager, Herb Shayne; the agency head, David Ogilvy; and me.

The chairman demonstrated the product in use with its innovative qualities of shape, feel, lather, etc. And he had written the advertising message: "PH7, neutral to the acid mantle of the skin."

The resultant silence was deafening. A marketing group rep asked if we could go out to the lab for further discussions. The marketing and creative people (including Reva Korda of O&M) went to the lab and asked the scientists what the key chemicals were and what they did.

The result was this copy theme: "1/4 cleansing cream, cleans your skin as you wash." We reported back to the chairman, requesting both themes be tested, and he approved.

The winner-"1/4 cleansing cream. . ."

Dove became a leading brand because: 1) it was a good product, and 2) it had a great advertising campaign.

Samuel Thurm joined Young & Rubicam's research department in 1946 and later became Y&R's media director. In 1956, he joined Lever Bros. as advertising director. In 1973, he became executive VP of the Association of National Advertisers, a position he held until his retirement in 1987. He also served as chairman of the ANA, the American Advertising Federation and the Advertising Research Foundation, and as vice chairman of the Advertising Council. Mr. Thurm, who teaches marketing at Florida Atlantic University, is on the board of the Better Business Bureaus.

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