Millions of Americans went to bed each night brushing their teeth with Pepsodent toothpaste during the first half of the 20th century. The brand was spotlighted in numerous print, radio and TV ads with catchy jingles and snappy dialogue. Pepsodent stood out from the pack because of its notably minty flavor and teeth-whitening ingredients.
o Information on Pepsodent’s earliest days is scarce. Company executives at Church & Dwight, the owner of Pepsodent, claim the brand was introduced in the early 20th century, initially as a tooth powder that eventually morphed into a paste form. Pepsodent allegedly struggled through the late 1920s, at which time it began sponsoring radio programs, including one hosted by Bob Hope. The move led to greater name recognition.
o Pepsodent advertisements spotlighted the toothpaste’s distinguishing features. It had a minty flavor that was derived from sassafras, an ingredient found in some varieties of tea and such soft drinks as root beer and sarsaparilla. Advertisements also pointed out the presence of irium (otherwise known as sodium lauryl sulfate) as a mechanism for fighting tooth decay, and to an ingredient known as IMP for preventing tooth decay.
o Throughout the 1950s, Pepsodent was one of the most popular toothpaste brands in the United States. But such brands as Colgate and Crest from competing companies were adding a new ingredient–fluoride–when it was discovered the chemical compound helped fight cavities. Heading into the 1960s, Pepsodent had not yet added fluoride, and sales were waning.
Change in Ownership
o In 2003 household-manufacturing company Church & Dwight purchased the Pepsodent brand rights in the United States from Unilever, a British and Dutch company that sells an assortment of consumer products throughout the world. Unilever still holds the rights to Pepsodent, where it is sold outside the U.S. Church & Dwight also holds the rights to such toothpaste brands as Aim, Arm & Hammer, Close-Up and Mentadent.
Marketing in the 21st Century
o Although the ingredients in Pepsodent have been tweaked over time, the brand never rebounded from the decline during the middle part of the 20th century. It is now considered a value brand alongside some of the bigger names in the industry. Stores selling Pepsodent usually offer it for half the price of such giants as Aquafresh, Colgate and Crest.
Claims by Church & Dwight
o According to the company website, Church & Dwight offer two versions of Pepsodent–one with the original flavor and another with enhanced whitening ingredients. Both versions, according to Church & Dwight, feature a “proven cavity-fighting formula” that aids in the removal of plaque and promotes strong enamel and healthy gums as well as tartar control.