Advertisement of the Palmolive Soap in 1941

bh1066Yujia Zhang
Professor Michael Diezmos
ENGL 15-008
Nov. 8 2016

The Palmolive Company, which now is called as the Colgate-Palmolive Company, is an American state corporation which mainly produces the goods about household, health and so on. It was established in 1806 in New York City by an English soap and candle maker. At that time the company had a totally different name which followed the name of the founder, Mr. Colgate. Then, after the great formula of soap which was made entirely of palm oil and olive oil was created and produced by the company in 1898, in 1905, the soap was so popular that it renamed the company after it – “Palmolive”. In 1941, one impressive new advertisement of the product came out and it is quite attractive and interesting for people to remember it till now. (Colgate-Palmolive Company, Wikipedia)
Looking through the whole advertisement, we could easily find that women are the main audience. First, on the top of the ad, there is a beauty image who is holding a bunch of rose and looks happily, which will evoke the empathy of woman. Second, in the middle part of ad, the words “Make YOUR fondest dreams come true” ( greatly fit the ideal of the women for the affection and the beauty – they want to be loved by others like the woman showed above. Furthermore, the company continuously talked about the great value of their soaps: “help more to bring out the hidden wealth of skin beauty”, “Keep to Palmolive. Keep that schoolgirl complexion”; “The schoolgirl complexion” ( makes the soap seems like that it could help female return to their youth, earning a plump and glossy face again. Although those words are really explicit and simple, it still gives a straightforward visual impression of the good result after using the product to people and convince the people to purchase it, which just like the slogan made by the peddler in the markets as “our product is so good, just come and buy it.” Besides, from other background of the Palmolive Company, also called the Colgate-Palmolive Company, it has sponsored a non-profit track meet open to women of all ages called the Colgate Woman Games, which is the nation’s largest amateur track series open to all girls from elementary school through college. That also express their focus to all the female. (Colgate-Palmolive Company, Wikipedia)
The text of this ad is really interesting, especially the scenery created above. The illustration of the beauty on the picture is so fabulous, with the sparkling brown hair and glossy face, wearing a pair of pearl necklace and a pink dress made of silk; she has a rosy cheek and red lips which have great appeal to others. The rose she holds is so bright and fresh, like a cluster of fire. In addition, “Darling, you have made me the happiest man in the world” (, which written on a slice of  paper aside, points out that the rose is sent by the boyfriend or the finance or the husband of the woman and that man takes the woman like the great treasure he owned. All those make people easily think that she is such a luck and happy woman and want to know how she can happy like that. Then, the message below tells that because she uses the palmolive soap and keep the good condition of her face, which make people more to believe it because they have just looked at the picture at first and have the interest to learn more about the product and buy it in order to achieve what the woman get in the ad. Also, in the bottom of the ad, another attractive text offers great image of the quality of the palmolive soap. The image is made of two hands which cross to each other and hold some green liquid in it and near to that, there is a print of the appearance and shape of the product: a translucent olive drab cube wrapped by two pieces of paper, inner one is white and another one is green. On the cube, word “palmolive” is engraved. That text properly responses to the literal text that surrounds it, the special color also will make people pay attention to it and read the lines.
Besides, in the ad, it mentions the natural color of the palmolive soap to prove their soap is made only of the palmolive oil and olive oil, which is the costliest oil that only the finest soap will be added in, showing how nature and perfect quality it is. It points out that there is no animal fats in their formula and thus the palmolive soap take the most care of the complexion of the woman who used it. That emphasizes the good goal of the product and makes the soap more reliable. Also, in the message on the white place, it says that “Be faithful to your Palmolive facial night and morning. Bathe with Palmolive daily. Thrill to its thick, quick-cleansing lather. Remember that a clear, petal-fresh complexion counts high in the eyes of every man” (, which greatly provoke the want of the female to buy the soap in order to allure the male. We know that the thick lather means that the soap could clean the things easier and deeper, so it becomes a good point of it, helping the woman cleans their skin better so that they could quickly remove sallowness, dullness and old keratin and keep “that schoolgirl complexion” that they always dreamed of. (
The author not only use the great effect of their product to attract the woman who seek for the love and beauty but also use the new size of the product for the whole family which makes the housewife takes it for the great economy value. The ad points out that the soap is so useful that “…Palmolive costs you no more than you pay for other leading soaps” “The whole family cheers for it” (, which provokes the buying desire of the people at that time. Thus, the cheap and useful soap which not only could keep the skin condition and make woman more beautiful, but also be economical and save the money for the family. The palmolive soap became the best substitution for the luxury creams and makeups to those housewives. Moreover, the mention of the whole family will get to the sensitive part of the woman’s heart, because for the female, nothing could be more important than their families that the thoughtful message showed in the ad will tremendously add the favor of the woman to the soap.
In 1941, the second world wars were still continuous which means that people did not have much money to buy anything they want and even had the limitation to buy something, so that it is the reason and historical contexts why the company want to point of the love and economical use of their products. Wars could not stop the demand of the woman for beauty and wars could not stop the nature of human that seeks for the love. The warm hue of the advertisement makes people in the war feel comfortable and confident. Besides, the positive content also makes people who see it have a better emotion, which is a significant part to gain the customer and make people buy the products. Proper price and lots of mentions of the care of the complexion also make the audience the woman feel they have been valued by others and feel they are truly existing. That achieves great commercial goals because the company gives the needs of their customers and is needed by their customers.
However, the matter of the advertisement is not attractive enough nowadays. First, today more and more types of the ad fulfilled the life of the people, so the state and dull form of the image cannot get people’s attention. The advertisement is half of the words and description which few people want to read it, and the picture is not real enough for a makeup to show its quality in the modern world. Also, today woman have more choice for their beauty and have no so much limitations on the money or other things to purchase the cosmetics, so the low price is not that attractive for people to buy the soap. Last but not the least, woman now have more time for themselves and are more knowledgeable, which means they have a more elaborate life and they will never believe that one thing could help them return to youth. They will take it as joke when somebody says that their soap could make people get younger. The exaggerate message on the advertisement will not be useful anymore. (
In conclusion, the palmolive soap make a nice and attractive advertisement which made the soap a huge success at that time but is not valuable recently. The whole advertisement concentrates on both the aesthetic feeling of the audience and the internal need of the woman, which other advertisements seldom or never achieved then. Also, the general text design is a great arrangement even in today. It is a deep impression and awesome example for today’s advertiser to make their advertisement better and cater to their customers better.
Cite Works
“Make Your Fondest Dreams Come True…” Duke Digital Collections. Duke University     Libraries, 1941. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
“Colgate-Palmolive.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.
“加入知乎.” 女生化妆品可以多到什么程度?. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2016.

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Introduce to ME3

This is major essay 3, about a soap advertisement. I carefully searched about the background and the special meaning showed in the advertisement and analyzed it after searching. My audience is those who are making or manage to make an advertisement or anyone interest in the 20th century advertisement.

I did a lot of research, both in english Website and Chinese website. Moreover, I tried to do free-write twice in order to develop my idea. It is a tough routine but also an amazing routine I never learned. There are still many thing that could be improved, like more details on the historical background. I could talk more about how people lived at that time and why the advertisement just met their needs.

It is also my first time writing a research paper. The experience is really new to me and it is really special. It is great to truly concentrate and put all your efforts on one thing for a week. Hope I could have that chance again in the future. 🙂

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