Lifebuoy soap (though not invented by them) was promoted by the Lever Brothers in England in 1895. It was propelled into the advertising world with ads claiming that it would save you from illness and protect you from germs (hence the name) due to its antiseptic nature. Early ads focused on the fact that it was carbolic (it contained carbolic acid) and would keep you healthy but later ads simply stated that it contained a “special health ingredient” that would protect you from the perils of illness as well as body odour. It is the latter claim which provides us with very amusing ads, mostly from the 1940s. Incidentally, Lifebuoy used the acronym ‘BO’ instead of the words ‘body odour’ and, it is believed, it was their ads which resulted in BO becoming a commonly used term.
While most of the ads appear to be targeted towards women, I have since found that men were not completely excluded. All kinds of storylines were used in Lifebuoy’s “comics” in order to incite fear and play on a person’s insecurities. If people were snubbing you, excluding you or didn’t want to date you it was because (according to Lifebuoy) you probably had BO.
Wondering why no one wants to go to the dance with you?
Is there a reason you’re not married yet and, by golly, you’re 32!?
Do people think you’re not as dainty as you used to be?
Feeling a little hot under the collar because the chaps are snubbing you?
Does your fiancé continue to put the wedding off?
Perhaps there’s another reason why your guests aren’t showing up…
When dancing is skipped there simply must be a reason…
The cake of Lifebuoy soap was coloured red and though I can’t be completely sure, I don’t believe it was ever used by my family (I certainly don’t remember red soap – we tended to use Imperial Leather). It’s possible however that my youth is against me because, to be honest, I don’t really recall the Lifebuoy brand at all.
I’d love to read about your memories though. Do you remember red Lifebuoy soap or the brand itself? Are there any other ads that left such a lasting impression that you still remember them?
Lifebuoy soap Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifebuoy_(soap))
1945 ‘Advertising.’, Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954), 20 November, p. 6, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69100236
1941 ‘Display Advertising.’, The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), 11 June, p. 2, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2571973
1945 ‘Advertising.’, Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 – 1954), 4 June, p. 4, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96196669
1941 ‘Advertising.’, Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 – 1954), 20 January, p. 3, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96336847
1947 ‘Advertising.’, The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), 26 July, p. 22, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46463979
1941 ‘Advertising.’, The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), 29 November, p. 15, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47483216
1946 ‘Advertising.’, The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), 9 March, p. 47, viewed 6 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47118654