Mid-20th century, Lysol disinfectant — because of the illegality of female contraceptives — was the No.1 selling “feminine hygiene” product

“One Of The Biggest Con Jobs In Advertising History”

1. Forgetting the obnoxious locks for a second, read that copy: “…instead of blaming him when married love begins to cool, she should question herself.”

Forgetting the obnoxious locks for a second, read that copy: "...instead of blaming him when married love begins to cool, she should question herself."

“Germs” meant “Sperm”

This branding move by Lysol was one of the most devious marketing ploys in advertising history.
At the time, female contraceptives were mostly illegal and not readily available. So Lysol moved into the very lucrative void and became the #1 selling feminine hygiene product.

On the surface, the ads sold Lysol as a douche. But just below the surface, the ads hinted at another benefit: birth control.

In her book, Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, historian Andrea Tone, PhD, notes that in their early ads, Lysol featured testimonials from prominent European “doctors.” Later investigation by the American Medical Association showed that these experts did not exist.

“The fraud of the Lysol douche was a byproduct of illegality,” Tone says. “Because birth control couldn’t be advertised openly, manufacturers would use euphemisms to refer to birth control. They took advantage of consumers’ hopes.”

Two of the code words were, “daintiness” (odor) and “germs” (sperm).

Now read how insidious the copy was on these ads.

2. 1933. DOOMSDAY…CALENDAR FEAR. Note all the cap “FEAR”s.

1933. DOOMSDAY...CALENDAR FEAR. Note all the cap "FEAR"s.

3. 1930s. Flawed jewel.

1930s. Flawed jewel.

4. 1935. Here’s the woman you could be.

1935. Here's the woman you could be.

5. 1945. Yep, his wandering eye is YOUR fault.

1945. Yep, his wandering eye is YOUR fault.

6. 1948. See ya, tuts. Note the fake doctors.

1948. See ya, tuts. Note the fake doctors.

7. 1949. Beware of the one intimate neglect that can engulf you in marital grief

1949. Beware of the one intimate neglect that can engulf you in marital grief

8. 1949. “OK Bob, give me…’indifferent.’”

1949. "OK Bob, give me...'indifferent.'"

9. 1951. Don’t risk becoming another you!

1951. Don't risk becoming another you!

10. 1951.

1951.

11. 1956. “…the one unforgivable fault.”

1956. "...the one unforgivable fault."

12. 1959

1959

13. 1959. “…won’t harm your delicate insides.” (almostsaid “vagina”)

1959. "...won't harm your delicate insides." ( almost said "vagina")

 

Forgetting the obnoxious locks for a second, read that copy: "...instead of blaming him when married love begins to cool, she should question herself."

 

1933. DOOMSDAY...CALENDAR FEAR. Note all the cap "FEAR"s.

 

1930s. Flawed jewel.

 

1930s. Flawed jewel.

1930s. Flawed jewel.

 

1930s. Flawed jewel.

1935. Here's the woman you could be.

 

1945. Yep, his wandering eye is YOUR fault.

 

1948. See ya, tuts. Note the fake doctors.

 

1949. Beware of the one intimate neglect that can engulf you in marital grief

 

1949. "OK Bob, give me...'indifferent.'"

 

1951. Don't risk becoming another you!

 

1951.

 

1956. "...the one unforgivable fault."

1959

 

1959. "...won't harm your delicate insides." ( almost said "vagina")

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