Ever hear of Listerine cold rub?

Neither have I. By now Vick’s has that mar­ket well cor­nered — though it looks as though Lambert wanted in on the action in ’32.

Their angle seems to be that the Listerine rub is “stain­less” — it won’t leave any nasty marks on Junior’s bed­sheets.1 They’re also proud of the “tidy tube” they’ve pack­aged it in as opposed to a “messy jar”.


Now this isn’t really a bad prod­uct roll­out. They’ve got a cou­ple of points in their favor (eas­ier cleanup, eas­ier and neater appli­ca­tion), and they sug­gest that their prod­uct is supe­rior in its effi­cacy. However, I won­der if every­one at Lambert was really behind this offer­ing — after all, it doesn’t exist any more — and the open­ing line in the ad is inter­est­ing. Halting, ten­ta­tive almost.

Your com­mon sense tells you that in these times we would not dare bring out a new prod­uct unless its supe­ri­or­ity were so marked as to win peo­ple immediately.

Context: 1932. United states.

Great Depression.

Someone at Lambert’s mar­ket­ing firm actu­ally used the Great Depression as a pro­mo­tional tool, doing his (or her) damn­d­est to lever­age the best out of an awful situation.

Even if the prod­uct wasn’t as good as Lambert claimed, you have to admire the chutzpah.

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1. Well, he says the marks must be com­ing from the Vick’s, and why would he lie?

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