Oddball Ad Campaigns of the 1940s: White Rock's Topless Tinkerbell

If the purpose of advertising is to grab the viewer's attention and set your product apart from the competition, then kudos to White Rock Beverage's ad agency, circa 1946 - mission accomplished!

White Rock certainly set themselves apart from other soft drink companies with this campaign... and no doubt grabbed the attention of more than a few consumers. I'm just not sure if an ad series featuring a topless girl was the way to do it.

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Sure, it probably sounded like a great idea when it was pitched (or maybe the three martini lunches made it sound more reasonable). The company logo featured its mascot, Psyche, a mythological/fairytale character who appeared on White Rock's product labels in what looks to be an old engraving from the 1800s.*

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Unfortunately that image of Psyche doesn't quite translate seamlessly into a then-modern context just because the illustrations always showed her with an arm obscuring her bare breasts... or even worse, pretended they weren't bare breasts because they were rendered without nipples!

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The audacity of these ads very nearly leaves me at a loss for words. Consider this February '47 offering below, for example. The headline suggests its a classic wife-catches-cheating-husband scenario.

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The husband's stammering response confirms he's feeling caught in the act:

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The explanation proffered by Psyche is of the sort that would only make sense to someone who had already enjoyed several stiff drinks (mixed with White Rock Sparkling Water, of course).

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Ooohhhh, I see.... she's not actually a semi-nudist at a party for people who own clothes - she's a symbol! Amazingly (and only in a White Rock ad) the lady of the house buys it. Sort of.

Apparently the missus is willing to set aside her concerns about her husband hiring a stripper for the dinner party so long as the guests are well lubricated. Just look at the expression on hubby's face. He can hardly believe he's going to get away with this. Priceless!

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Long before the streaking craze of the early '70s, White Rock's topless tinkerbell could be seen in all her glory, working her magic...

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... from the stage...

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... to the screen...

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... to the streets.

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Thankfully, by mid-1947 Psyche had discovered that her gauzy toga bottom came with enough material to fashion a top.

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And by early '48 it was actually safe to have her in the same room with the kids!

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In reality, I suspect that someone higher up at White Rock was getting tired of fielding letters of complaint from irate church and PTA groups! (But that's just my sneaking suspicion).

* An article in a 1971 issue of the Journal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts describes how Psyche became the symbol of White Rock beverages:

In the 1890s the executives of the White Rock company were looking for a trademark that would reflect the "clear sparkling purity of their products." At the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, they saw the painting "Psyche at Nature's Mirror" by German artist Paul Thurmann. It was exactly what they wanted. They purchased the trademark rights to the painting and Psyche became "The White Rock Girl."

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