Copywriters didn’t pull punches
advertising to women
On the right, the headlines from the advertisements above
The body copy adds some amazing assertions…
Your presence can be repulsive to friends.
You can succeed socially without brains.
She carries a shocking slur on her daintiness.
The cards are stacked against you says this advertisement
for Mum anti-perspirant
The product is said to have been named “Mum”, meaning “to keep silent”, as in the popular phrase “Mum’s the word” Mum was originally sold as a cream in a jar and applied with the fingertips. The small company was bought by Bristol-Myers in 1931. (It may now be owned by Procter & Gamble.)
The copywriter informs the reader that a wise young woman of the world” tells a young friend “in a confidential chat not long ago” that “you can succeed socially without brains. You can get along without beauty. You can do without a sense of style.
“But there’s one thing you can’t possibly succeed without. That is a quality which everyone, men especially, likes to think of as essentially feminine – the quality of freshness, sweetness, immaculateness of person.”
And this wise young woman then adds: “And I say unhesitatingly that the greatest single enemy to this feminine quality of person is underarm perspiration odor. When you are careless about this you are stacking the social cards against yourself.”
The second advertisement, with question mark strategically placed, is headlined:
“How the truth would hurt if some girls knew what others think of them for neglecting underarm perspiration. How their ears would burn with shame!”
The product, Odo-ro-no anti-perspirant, was so named because, apparently, it “Never Fails You”)
And the copywriter continued: “For your presence can be repulsive to friends even when you yourself don’t even dream that you’re guilty of offensive underarm odor. And it’s a fault that confesses itself. “For perspiration moisture in the confined armpit quickly forms an acid that ruins dresses and turns friends away. Even your bath won’t save you, after a few minutes.”
Then the solution to this problem! “But Odorono, a physician’s formula, protects you so completely that your mind is free of all fear of offending. And by checking, completely, all underarm moisture, it saves dresses from ruinous stains.”
- Odorono claimed: “Millions of women…in 73 countries all over the world…trust their charm only to Odorono.”
- The claim further says Odorono “was approved by Good Housekeeping and used by doctors and nurses everywhere.”
- In 1934 you could also send 10₵ for a special introductory bottle of Odorono with original sanitary applicator. Apparently shipping was free!
- To learn more about Odo-ro-no, and to review many more Odo-ro-no advertisements, visit this excellent website: https://cosmeticsandskin.com/companies/odorono.php
In the third advertisement,
this time for Absorbine Jr., the copywriter proclaims that “The lovely Miss X of Montreal has— it’s politely called Athlete’s Foot”
The body copy then begins romantically.:
The poet’s line, “she walks in beauty like the night,” describes this young lady perfectly. Wherever she enters, all eyes pay homage to her youthful loveliness.
But between her toes she carries a shocking slur on her daintiness. She has a nasty case of Athlete’s Foot.
At first it was a little itch. But it grew, and spread. The skin turned red, raw. Then dead-white and cracked open. Now she bravely hides it – but it has her worried.
“And worse things are in store, unless the trouble is checked. For the pernicious fungus, tinea trichophyton, which cause Athlete’s Foot, steadily bores deeper into the raw flesh. If neglected, serious, even fatal, infections may follow.”
Copywriting like this would be career-ending today. Not so in 1934 when these advertisements ran in Canadian Home Journal and other magazines directed to women. Political correctness wasn’t an offense.
Athlete’s Foot was so-named by noted copywriter Arthur Kudner