Thursday, July 2, 2009

John O. Powers and Mum Deoderant

One of Powelton’s great features is our gardens. However, one Poweltonian was known for another sort of Mums.
John O. Powers lived at 206 N. 34th St. in 1910. He was the son of John E. Powers, the first full-time copywriter. John E. doubled John Wanamaker’s business within a few years using such honest advertising lines like “the price is monstrous, but that’s none of our business” and "We have a lot of rotten gossamers and things we want to get rid of." Apparently this stark honesty was refreshing and compelling.
John O. Powers (1868-1937) was born in England where his father was selling sewing machines. (The family is recorded in the 1881 Census of England, even though John E. was hired by Wanamaker in 1880.) John O. founded his own agency and succeeded by giving all of his attention to a small number of products. One of his most successful ad campaigns was for Mums deodorant. In The Mirror Makers, Stephen R. Fox describes it this way:

" 'Mum' is the word!” Accompanied by a picture of a woman with her index finger to her lips in a shushing gesture, the copy urged, "When you're getting ready for the dance, the theatre, or an evening in other crowded and close places , and you want to make sure that perspiration and its inevitable odor will not steal away your sweet cleanliness and dainty charm – 'Mum' is the word!" And so on, through ten other difficult situations.

So remember Poweltonian: when preparing for the next swank Powelton soirée, “‘Mum’ is the word.”

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