Thursday, December 2, 2010

The past is just a few clicks away

In a time when the world-wide interwebs gives us access to incredible amounts of information the past is always just a few key strokes away, as Colgate-Palmolive found out.

A few years ago they bought a toothpaste brand in Hong Kong that markets itself under the brand name "Darlie" featuring a smiling black man on the front of the package.

A deeper look into the brand reveals it used to be called Darkie and the translation of the current Chinese characters on the package reads "Black man's toothpaste."

It seems that back in the 1930's the brand's founder was a fan of Al Jolson and thought the minstrel look effectively showed off his pearly whites, a perfect image for marketing. Maybe back then. Not today.

I'm all for honoring a brand's heritage, but not in this case. Even though this brand is sold only in China, in today's wired world it has the power to negatively impact the global Colgate brand.

This is one of the rare instances where throwing the baby out with the bath water would be a good thing. The time to completely rebrand and repackage this product was about 50 years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, man, we had this stuff when I was growing up in Taiwan. And when I went back to visit, I was well into my teens before I realized. "Oh, dear," I said, foaming at the mouth, literally.
    I do like the idea of a Bing Crosby lookalike reminding me that my grin can be just as shiny. But yes, I agree, this brand needs some kinda total overhaul.