Did you buy Gibbs SR in the ’60s because you wanted your mouth to be “tingling fresh”? The TV ad featured a smiling woman brushing her teeth with vigour while a voice-over using wonderfully Received Pronunciation said, “The tingling fresh toothpaste that does your gums good too. It’s tingling fresh. It’s fresh as ice. It’s Gibbs SR toothpaste,” before ending with a shot of a Gibbs SR toothpaste tube in a block of ice.
First broadcast in 1955, it was the UK’s first ever TV commercial – and it caused quite a stir. Not many homes had TVs at the time so there can have been little impact in terms of sales, but certain upstanding members of society were quick to condemn it, saying that TV advertising was vulgar, crass, and “against the national interest.”
How things changed!
By the 1960s, TV ads were not only convincing viewers that toothpaste could strengthen gums and freshen breath, but also open doors to a whole new world! The voice-over on the Signal toothpaste ad said, “New places, new people, a new wonderful experience, and brand-new breath every time you brush with Signal.”
You see, only Signal had the special stripes that could give you brand-new breath every time you brushed, but if TV adverts were to be believed, then you would need to brush with Close Up Dentifrice if you were going to kiss with confidence. While a silhouetted couple on screen puckered up and moved in for a passionate smooch, the voice-over told viewers, “Clear, red Close Up brushes out bad breath whilst it whitens your teeth.”
Those disgusted by the vulgarity of TV advertising in 1955 must have reeled at the scene!
Many in the Spring Chicken Community look back fondly on simpler times:
“We seemed to be obsessed with bad breath back then, and I remember how huge toothbrushes used to be. How did we get them into our mouths?”
Whiter than White
However, the nation’s obsession with whiteness didn’t end with oral hygiene. In a time when washing was displayed on a line for all to see, getting whiter than white whites was a matter of pride, and the big washing powder brands of the day took full advantage of TV advertising to target housewives and mothers.
The High Active Persil ad featured a proud mum and her mucky son who loved to jump in puddles. Showing images of a busy twin tub, the voice-over informed us that High Active Persil soap suds were easy to wash away compared to detergent suds: “New High Active Persil washes even whiter – and it shows!”
Competitor OMO proudly proclaimed that it gave a “crisp bright wash” and with a box in hand, the star of the ad told us that “OMO adds brightness to cleanness and whiteness!”
Spring Chicken Facebook followers remember the straightforward approach used in 1960s TV ads and the clear messages they contained, although some remember a box of OMO displayed on a window ledge sending out a very different message:
“Certain women used to put a box of OMO in the window to say Old Man Out!”