Charles Brownstein just wrote to tell me that Dick Wilson, the actor/pitchman who portrayed Mr. Whipple for Charmin passed away.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the media will be all over this one. Mr. Whipple was one very well known advertising icon. At one time, eight out of every 10 Americans could identify who Mr. Whipple was. In fact, in 1978, Mr. Whipple was named the third best-known American—just behind former President Nixon and Billy Graham. He edged out both then-President Carter AND Ronald McDonald--that's some serious presence!
Charmin actually was a superior product. First introduced in 1928 by the Hoberg Paper Company of Green Bay WI, Charmin was marketed to women by emphasizing its softness. The familiar four roll package was launched in 1932. In the 1950's, Charmin added photography of ladies and babies onto the packaging along with the slogan "Charmin babies your skin." In 1957, Proctor & Gamble purchased the brand. Later, P&G added a scent to the product making it the first nationally distributed perfumed toilet tissue.
In 1964, P&G rolled out its first of reportedly 504 Mr. Whipple ad spots. Mr. Whipple represented Charmin for over 20 years. Every ad was essentially the same in a Krazy Kat-ish sort of way. Mr. Whipple steadfastly patrolled the aisles of his store to prevent housewives from squeezing the packages of Charmin bathroom tissue. He had the determination of Offisa Pup but the compulsive behavior of Ignatz Mouse. He could not resist the temptations of breaking the rules and succumbing to forbidden behavior. By the end of the commercial--Mr. Whipple would always be caught sheepishly squeezing a package of Charmin with the same look on his face as Krazy Kat would have right after taking a brick to the head.
But the message was clear. Charmin is soft. And it smells good.