Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Farewell Mr. Whipple

Dick Wilson, THE character actor who turned "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" into a national catchphrase as exasperated shopkeeper Mr. Whipple in the TV commercial campaign that ran for more than two decades, has died. He was 91.

He was also one of the last great pitchmen to get it right - reinforcing the message that Charmin was "soft" a product feature with multiple benefits that later took the category's back burner as consumers looked beyont cost-of-entry softness to hygiene in their sanitary products. Similarly, disposable diapers moved from keeping babies drier to enabling the Pampers brand to expand the franchise by first focusing on a newborn and infant's 'development' into toddlerhood with Pampers Phases Developmental Diapers created by Calle & Company in 1982.

For me, as an advertiser, the sadness in Mr. Whipple's passage is that we have gone from pitchmen with a product-based punchline drilling a product, brand or category's features home - to adpeople raised on television and internet (viral) entertainment who now strive to create ads that do little more than that - and ignoring a product's reason for being as a persuader.

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