[Ads-l] Ivory Soap

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Sep 3 12:47:09 UTC 2017

And lest we forget, P&G’s non-alphanumeric slogan for Ivory Soap:

“So Pure It Floats”

Apparently it’s because the soap is air-whipped.


> On Sep 3, 2017, at 7:34 AM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM> wrote:
> --- Begin forwarded message:
> From: Dave Feldman <feldman at imponderables.com>
> To: JJJRLandau at netscape.com
> Subject: Ivory Soap
> Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2017 01:02:01 -0400
> Hi Jim,
> A friend of mine, who is on the ADS listserv contacted me about the age-old
> Ivory Soap Imponderables, and I attempted to answer directly to the
> Listserv but my email was rejected.  Might you be willing to post this to
> the list, just in case the OP is sleepless without the answer?  Thanks!
> -- 
> Dave Feldman
> ******************************
> If Ivory Soap is 99.44% pure, what's the rest?
>> The answer can be found in David Feldman _Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise_.
> Unformatunately I do not have a copy available at this time.
>> - Jim Landau
> I seem to have a copy floating around here:
>        Procter & Gamble, in the late nineteenth century, sold many
> products made of fats, such as candles and lard oil, as well as soap.
> Ivory Soap was originally marketed as a laundry soap, but the company was
> smart enough to realize its product’s potential as a cosmetic soap.  The
> only problem was that most consumers were buying castile soaps (hard soaps
> made out of olive oil and sodium hydroxide) and considered laundry soap
> inappropriate for their personal grooming.
>        In order to convince consumers that its soap was wholesome, Procter
> & Gamble employed an independent scientific consultant in New York City to
> determine exactly what a pure soap was.  The answer:  a pure soap should
> consist of nothing but fatty acids and alkali; anything else was foreign
> and superfluous.
>        Samples of Ivory Soap were sent to the same chemist for analysts.
> Much to the manufacturer’s surprise, Ivory, by the consultant’s definition,
> was “purer” than the competing castile soaps — containing only 0.56 percent
> “impurities.”  The impurities, then and now, were rather innocent:
>                        Uncombined alkali:  0.11 percent
>                        Carbonates:  0.28 percent
>                        Mineral matter: 0.17 percent
>        The first Ivory advertisement was placed in a religious weekly, The
> Independent, on December 21, 1881.  Procter & Gamble decided to emphasize
> the positive, and right away hammered at their product’s advantages.  Ivory
> Soap was trumpeted as “99 and 44/100 percent pure,” a rare advertising
> slogan in that it has lasted longer than a century.
> ***************
>        I wrote this 30 years go, but I’m guessing the info is still
> accurate, as this is a rare Imponderables entry that I’ve gotten no
> complaints about!  Hope this helps.
> Dave Feldman
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