Gee Whillickers!

To Smell or Not to Smell?

In the early 1900s, ad men were really aiming their guns at personal anxieties to move product. Nothing new then, or even now, but at that time it was being done to the degree that they were even being invented! Actually fabricating new markets.

One trade publication wrote “Advertising helps to keep the masses dissatisfied with their mode of life, discontented with ugly things around them. Satisfied customers are not as profitable as discontented ones.”


There was Odo-Ro-No, a deodorant for women. In addition to having a name that just rolls off the tongue, Odo-Ro-No became the first company to use the term “B.O.” in 1919. A euphemism that unlocked the advertising door to a delicate subject which was otherwise restricted to pitching the “daintiness” and “sweetness” you could achieve with their products. Odo-Ro-No even had an “Armhole Odor Test” to help previously ignorant potential customers learn the socially destructive dangers of B.O.

The Lambert Pharmaceutical Company had developed an antibacterial liquid, sold as a general antiseptic, in the 1880s. Seeking to expand its market, the company contacted an ad man. In a meeting, the chief chemist was brought in to list off and describe the product’s uses. The product name? Listerine. When he came to “halitosis” everyone asked, “What’s that?” A campaign was launched playing on the fears of what others would think of someone afflicted with halitosis.

Not every attempt to open new markets was met with mouthwash success.

The famous ad campaign featured poor Edna, who was “often a bridesmaid but never a bride.” It tells the sad tale of how she was approaching her “tragic” 30th birthday, still unmarried because of her affliction: halitosis, which the ad explains, “you, yourself, rarely know when you have it. And even your closest friends won’t tell you.”

The result? Annual sales for Listerine went from $100,000 in 1921 to over $4 million in 1927—a 40x increase in six years. Gurgle-gurgle-gurgle, cha-CHING! The very mouth of advertising had been rinsed and there was a new smell on the breath of the industry, one that was now selling a wide variety of products with short sappy dramas of personal humiliation in just about any social setting.

Gosh, That’s Handy!

A Dot What File?

Even though the acronym B.O. has endless potential for edge-of-your-seat copy, let’s have a look at some common industry-related computer acronyms—file extensions.

Here are some acronyms, their breakdown and explanation for common file types in the design/printing industry:

  • EPS – Encapsulated Postscript File: A computer image file containing both images and PostScript commands. Common to printing, this format supports raster images (made up of pixels) or vector images (made up of mathematical points and lines). Vector image data tends to be significantly lighter weight and is best suited for logos, signs and design devices, as in borders, fancy bullets, symbols, etc.
  • TIFF – Tagged Image File Format: A file format that is used to store and manipulate pixel-based image files. This format is best suited for photos and other continuous-tone graphics, as in design elements with texture, soft shadows, etc.
  • GIF – Graphic Interchange Format: A graphics file format developed by CompuServe which is used mostly for websites. This format has a fixed color palette of up to 256 colors (8-bit), and can support transparency and animation.
  • JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group: A file based on the standards set for image compression/decompression. This is also a common website image format. The files are full color, but have a sliding scale of compression to quality—the more compressed it is, the lower the quality. Though these are widely used on the web, they are also used by designers as a lighter-weight format for prepress image files, but not as final images for a print shop.
  • TXT – Text File: A file for storing plain text. No frills, no formatting.
  • RTF – Rich Text Format: A standard formalized by Microsoft Corporation for specifying formatting of documents. RTF files have special commands to indicate formatting information, such as font style, weight, size and margins.
  • HTML – Hyper-Text Markup Language: Hypertext refers to the system of clickable links within text, so documents and information can be quickly linked together. HTML files are embedded with codes for logical markup to structure tables, links, interactive forms, headings, paragraphs, etc. An HTML file basically tells a web browser where everything goes on the page and what it should look like.

Ad Absurdum!

Lysol, 1948

Goodness gracious! Before Lysol was scouring bathroom and kitchen surfaces, in an age when men were men and women had cast-iron interiors, it was used as a feminine disinfectant and contraceptive douche.

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Lifebuoy Health Soap, 1940

Here we have “Nervous B.O.” These ad men were taking a page from the psychiatric tactic of inventing vague and theoretical labels, phobias and “neuroses” and classifying them arbitrarily as diseases to justify their entire ineffective field. The difference being, this stuff probably actually did something to stop your pits from stinking.

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High Potency “Ennds”, Circa 1950

Uh-oh! Or should one say “uh-O-O-O?” Remember B.O. comes in three none too subtle forms—or “Os.” Breath odor, body odor and other personal odors.

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LUX, 1940

Undie odor. Another warning sign, posted in the pages of publications for our social safety, educating us on new and improved classifications for this epidemic.

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