1991 Colgate Acti Brush advert.
In 1806, William Colgate, himself a soap and candle maker, opened up a starch, soap, and candle factory on Dutch Street in New York City under the name of “William Colgate & Company”. In the 1840s, the firm began selling individual bars in uniform weights. In 1857, William Colgate died and the company was reorganized as “Colgate & Company” under the management of Samuel Colgate, his son. In 1872, Colgate introduced Cashmere Bouquet, a perfumed soap. In 1873, the firm introduced its first toothpaste, an aromatic toothpaste sold in jars. His company sold the first toothpaste in a tube, Colgate Ribbon Dental Cream, in 1896. By 1908 they initiated mass selling of toothpaste in tubes. His other son, James Boorman Colgate, was a primary trustee of Colgate University (formerly Madison University).
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the B.J. Johnson Company was making a soap entirely of palm and olive oil, the formula of which was developed by B.J. Johnson in 1898. The soap was popular enough to rename their company after it – “Palmolive”. At the turn of the century Palmolive, which contained both palm and olive oils, was the world’s best-selling soap, and extensive advertising included The Palmolive Hour, a weekly radio concert program which began in 1927. A Kansas based soap manufacturer known as the Peet Brothers merged with Palmolive to become Palmolive-Peet. In 1928, Palmolive-Peet bought the Colgate Company to create the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. In 1953 “Peet” was dropped from the title, leaving only “Colgate-Palmolive Company”, the current name.
Colgate-Palmolive has long been in fierce competition with Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest soap and detergent maker. P&G introduced its Tide laundry detergent shortly after World War II, and thousands of consumers turned from Colgate’s soaps to the new product. Colgate lost its number one place in the toothpaste market when P&G started putting fluoride in its toothpaste. In the beginning of television, Colgate-Palmolive wished to compete with Procter & Gamble as a sponsor of soap operas. Although the company sponsored many shows in part, they were most famous for being the full sponsor of the serial The Doctors.
George Henry Lesch was president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Colgate-Palmolive in the 1960s and 1970s, and during that time transformed it into a modern company with major restructuring.
In 2006, Colgate-Palmolive announced the intended acquisition of Tom’s of Maine, a leading maker of natural toothpaste, for US $100M. Tom’s of Maine was founded by Tom Chappell in 1970.
Today, Colgate has numerous subsidiary organisations spanning 200 countries, but it is publicly listed in only two, the United States and India.
In June 2007, phony Colgate toothpaste imported from China was found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol, and several people in eastern U.S. reported experiencing headaches and pain after using the product. The tainted products can be identified by the claim to be manufactured in South Africa by Colgate-Palmolive South Africa LTD, they are 5oz/100ml tubes (a size which Colgate does not sell in the United States) and the tubes/packaging contain numerous mis-spellings on their labels. Colgate-Palmolive claims that they do not import their products from South Africa into the United States or Canada and that DEG is never and was never used in any of their products anywhere in the world. The counterfeit products were found in smaller “mom and pop” stores, dollar stores and discount stores in at least four states.
Info taken from Wikipedia