When Kleenex was a novelty

This 1940s Kleenex ad features illustrated testimonials for facial tissues is an interesting look back at the time when "one hand removes a tissue... and up pops another" had enough novelty value to feature in a major ad campaign.

Kleenex 1940s


      1.  That may be the most obvious — apparently a girl couldn’t be too bare-arsed either.

        The art style is certainly of its time, as is the “cartoon panel” composition and the fact that they’re offering $5 if they use your tag line (correct for inflation and that isn’t as trivial as it sounds to us).

        Participatory advertising did go out of style for a while, though social media are seeing a resurgence of the “write our ad for us” game.

        Another bit of cognitive dissonance is simply that this is a product which we take for granted and consider a generic household staple… but which was new at the time. It’s sorta like seeing a breathlessly-excited pitch for  apples. (Though I *do* remember Chiquita Banana actively teaching the American public what to do with this new-to-us fruit.)

      2. Could it be because the naked toddler appears to be wearing rouge and lipstick, and is striking a cheesecake pose?  That’s not creepy at all.

  1. To save anyone else who wondered the trouble of googling:  Smackover, Ark., Edenton, N.C. and Atlantic, IA are all real towns.

  2. Don’t you mean “Kleenex ™ brand facial tissue”? Gots to be careful.
    I know I had a xerox of the rules of trademark and branding here somewhere. I guess I’ll just use my Google-brand search engine and find it. Woops, don’t have time. Let me get my thermos of milk out of my lunch sack and I’ll be back.

  3. You know how they say “Teachers didn’t look like that when *I* went to school” ? Clearly they are full of crap. Just look at the teacher in bottom left. I think this is where you turn into a wolf, bug out your eyes, stick out your tongue, and sound a klaxon horn.

  4. So the quality must have been much better back then. Kleenex today wads and/or shreds every time I use it. Really, it’s my own fault for not shaving my nostril hair first.

  5. This is what came to mind when I read, “one hand removes a tissue… and up pops another”:

    If there were a half-second lag before the next tissue came out and then, instead of “popped”, if it just sort of slithered up.

    People in the 1940’s would run screaming from the room.

  6. $5 for a Kleenex true confession? Don’t say that too loudly around the boys’ room! They’ll peel the whole collection off the skin mags.

  7. Either advertisers are liars (!), or the Kleenex they had back then was much smoother than now. I’ve yet to use one that “soothes” my nose during a cold. Usually by the end I’m chafed.

  8. Kleenex was a breakthrough product back then along with cellophane and tampons. As best I can tell, they developed a number of new processes for processing wood pulp to get softer, more absorbent paper products and thin, transparent layers. Was there also a revolution in toilet paper back then? I remember Springfield Oval back at MIT in the 70s. It was relatively waxy and thin by modern standards. It came on an oval roll that made it nearly impossible to grab more than two small squares at a time. Kleenex, in contrast, is a pretty good product. It’s hard to believe it took an ad campaign to convince people to buy it.

  9. What’s with the half naked toddler in the highly suggestive stance? What exactly did people do with tissues in the 40’s?

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