Paul Feldwick wrote an article for MediaCat Magazine titled Come back, Whipple, all is forgiven (July 6, 2022).
« In 1964, a junior copywriter at Benton & Bowles in New York, [John Chervokas] was briefed to write a campaign for P&G’s toilet tissue, Charmin, demonstrating the product’s softness. Years later, he explained his source of inspiration: “What does mom do in the super-market? She squeezes the melons. And the tomatoes. And the bread. To see if they’re soft. … Why not use the same test for Charmin?” Together with creative director Sid Lerner, he developed the thought into a series of commercials where a grocery store manager called Mr Whipple was continually having to tell his customers ‘Please, don’t squeeze the Charmin’. As an added gag, as soon as the customers had been driven off, Whipple could never resist squeezing the product himself. »
« Sales of Charmin boomed, and continued to do so. The campaign ran for twenty years, actor Dick Wilson starring as Whipple in over 500 commercials. »
« In the opening chapter [of Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan], the Charmin campaign is set up as a touchstone for bad advertising. Not that the author attempts to disguise its popularity or success: ‘He was selling literally billions of rolls of toilet paper. Billions.’ »
This speaks to the disconnect between ads that win awards for ad agencies and ads that sell product for clients.
« They’re absurd, they’re certainly not meant to be realistic »
« They created powerful distinctive assets — the character of Mr Whipple, and the line ‘Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!’. They even communicate, for what it’s worth, a USP or consumer benefit about the softness of the product. They made the brand (and Mr. Whipple) extraordinarily famous, and by raising its mental availability built Charmin into a highly profitable success. They do exactly what brand advertising is supposed to do. »
Paul Feldwick is author of Why Does the Pedlar Sing? What Creativity Really Means in Advertising (2021) and The Anatomy of Humbug: How to Think Differently About Advertising (2015).