Oct 30, 2015  Düsseldorf / Germany

Innovative advertising

A glance back at history: Henkel was a pioneer in the development of advertising

In 1876, Henkel Fritz Henkel founded the company Henkel & Cie. with two business partners. From the beginning, Fritz Henkel knew the importance of advertising. Henkel has always been using innovative advertising formats and captured the heart of consumers, using the “White Lady” as an icon.

Men dressed in white and holding gigantic Persil sun umbrellas

As part of the advertising efforts men dressed in white and holding gigantic Persil sun umbrellas were strolling around the busy shopping streets in 1908.

The first ad for a universal detergent already appeared in the local Cologne newspaper the year Henkel was founded. It was the start of the company’s creative advertising strategy: The slogans were not only displayed in newspapers, they were brought over to customers in different manners. In 1908, a year after the introduction of Persil – the first self-acting laundry detergent in the world – men dressed in white strolled around the busy shopping streets with gigantic sun umbrellas, awaking the curiosity of consumers.

The „White Lady,“ who was designed and brought to life by Berliner artist Kurt Heiligenstaedt, appeared for the first time in 1922 and has been a part of Persil’s history ever since. Until the 1960s, she was the face of the brand on billboards and enamel signs for the washing powder and until today she has been symbolizing the cleansing power of the laundry detergent. The popular icon in a white dress decorates vintage Persil clocks that can be found in many German cities.

In 1927, Persil adverts reached new heights: The brand used planes to write “Persil” in the sky – a lettering that was visible beyond the borders of Germany. Four years later, the brand started using skywriting through light cannons. In November 1956, Henkel set new advertising standards with the first commercial in the history of German television – in the evening program, TV channel ARD broadcast the “Mahlzeit” spot with two famous German actors. Persil developed further legendary TV-commercial concepts in the years that followed. The famous television slogan “With Persil, you know what you get” is still remembered.

The popular Pril flowers are also an exemple of an advertising concept that has enthused customers over generations. The colorful flower stickers, which appeared on the back of the bottles of the dishwashing liquid in 1972, soon became a classic symbol of the brand. A limited Flower Edition was released in 2015.