Lather, rinse and repeat
By Mark Backes
I was an advertising major in college and one of my professors, Don Vance, was a grizzled veteran of Madison Avenue advertising. Prof. Vance was a copywriter for one of the bigger ad agencies in New York during the heyday of American consumerism in the ‘60s (yes…think Mad Men!). He coined the phrase “advertising is selling Twinkies to adults.” I loved his class because he taught in anecdotes, great war stories recounting the glory days of mid-century advertising.
One particular anecdote that has stayed with me for more than 30 years is the genesis of the blog I write today. This is a re-telling of a Madison Avenue legend, one of my favorites.
When is the last time you read the directions on a shampoo bottle? I know washing your hair is a pretty simple task, but if you read the label you will find on many bottles the simple directions for use are “lather, rinse and repeat.” Being a collector of the innocuous, I believe I may actually have the etymology of these simple directions, or at least a good cocktail party anecdote.
As I remember the story, in early 1948, the personal care product behemoth Proctor & Gamble was disappointed by the sales of their new Prell™ shampoo. They presented their advertising agency with the challenge to double sales or lose the account. Vance noted that after several weeks of vain attempts at creating the perfect campaign to drive sales, a junior copywriter suggested the easiest way to double sales would be to get the consumer to use twice as much shampoo — hence the single word “repeat” in the ubiquitous phrase “lather, rinse and repeat,” created advertising gold!
What does this have to do with Goodwill’s mission? Walk around a Goodwill store and you will soon see. There is a lot of “rinse and repeating” that ends up in our stores. This year alone, Goodwill of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo will divert close to 25 million pounds of goods from landfill. These are goods that we will resell to fuel our engine of growth and job creation.
So, with your help, we are affecting change; your donations and those of your friends turn waste into economic growth for our area.
So as you clear your closet this February to make room for more stuff accumulated during the holiday season, please keep Goodwill in mind We will do our very best to keep your clutter out of the landfill. But instead of “lather, rinse and repeat,” may I suggest “lather, rinse and donate!”