Rapid Shave: Soaks whiskers soft, but not sandpaper

Commercials can be odd to begin with. And when you’re trying to stand out from the crowd, or try to drive a point home, they can get weirder still. Like this one, for Palmolive’s Rapid Shave shaving cream:

Palmolive commercial from… the fifties or sixties?

Just look at what Palmolive’s own moisturising power and seventeen beard softeners can do – when paired with a Schick Injector, by the looks of things. Probably a G-model, if I were to hazard a guess. A pretty straight forward, if a little over the top, commercial. Features something that most people won’t do or even consider doing.

I’ve also learned a fun thing today as I was poking around trying to learn more about this advertisment. Did you know that the Federal Trade Commission sued the Colgate-Palmolive Company in the early sixties over a commercial? Not this one, but one where Palmolive claimed their Rapid Shave cream was so good it could shave sandpaper.

Why you would want to shave sandpaper that is beyond me… but the FTC thought that it was deceptive and a material misrepresentation.

Not because the Rapid Shave cream sucked – it’s canned goo, and canned goo is bad by definition. Although Rapid Shave don’t seem to have been the worst canned goo you could get.

Not because shaving sandpaper is stupid to begin with.

No, because the ad didn’t use actual sandpaper, but just sand sprinkled on plexiglass…

A still from the infamous Rapid Shave shaving cream sandpaper commercial
A still from the infamous “sandpaper commercial”

So due to the ruling of the US supreme court advertisers from then on should remain truthful in their product presentations. And that means that today a commercial will often feature a notification that events portrayed is a dramatisation. You can read more about the case and the fallout from it here.

Rapid Shave may soak your whiskers without water – but it won’t shave sandpaper.

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