Photo Courtesy of Pears InternationalThe Pears Soap empire of England has enticed consumers with original marketing campaigns from the very beginning.
In the beginning of the 17th century, Founder Andrew Pears developed the first soap of its kind—transparent with wild foaming viscosity not found in competitor brands. He continued to revolutionize the product, tweaking the formula and adding delicate scents of English garden flowers. The constantly evolving company that originally sold skin-lightening powders, creams, and rouges to wealthy denizens of London, found their niche selling soap.
Earning great success with endorsements from the affluent people of Oxford—from celebrities such as Lillie Langtry, and from highly respected skincare experts—they set out on a quest to master enhanced publicity of their product, targeting not only the rich but the middle-class, whose buying power was continuing to increase.
The Pears Soap Company torch was passed down through generations of the Pears family… and with every handoff, their advertising campaigns became more clever, more original, always appealing to the masses.
Barratt Pears (grandson of the founder, Andrew) hit pay-dirt when he successfully convinced famed British artist, Sir John Everett Millais’ to relinquish exclusive rights to use his painting ‘Bubbles’ as an advertisement for Pears. Millais, the most prosperous and successful artist of England in the late 1800’s, had his reservations about a flagrant exploitation of his work—what we might now call "selling out."
But the finesse and sophistication of the Pears’ organization created a high-quality and artful campaign that Millais was proud of. Ultimately the art world was hostile about his decision to cross-market his work and the debate over the scandalous use of a painting to market a common product continued on years after his death.
Barratt Pears claimed to have spent 30,000£ on the campaign...the campaign that would pay off in spades. For after the printing of the first advertisement, millions of reproductions were created and sold—hung in homes around the world. Pears’ "Bubble Campaign" and Millais’ "Bubbles" would go down in history as the one of the most recognizable ad campaigns of all time. Pears still makes soap today.