Olay originated in South Africa as Oil of Olay. Graham Wulff (1916-2008), an ex-Unilever chemist from Durban, started it in 1949. The name “Oil of Olay” was chosen by Wulff as a spin on the word “lanolin”, a key ingredient.
It was unique in the early days because it was a pink fluid rather than a cream, packaged in a heavy glass bottle. Wulff and his marketing partner, Jack Lowe, a former copywriter, had tested the product on their wives and friends and were confident in its uniqueness and quality.
Olay’s marketing was also unique, since it was never described as a moisturizer, nor even as beauty fluid. Nowhere on the packaging did it say what the product actually did. Print adverts used copy such as “Share the secret of a younger looking you” and talked about the ‘beauty secret’ of oil of Olay. Other adverts were written as personal messages to the reader from a fictitious advice columnist named Margaret Merril. They ran in Readers’ Digest and newspapers and often looked like editorials. (more…)