First sold in 1879, Ivory soap is one of the flagship brands of giant Procter & Gamble as it was one of its first products. While originally just a manufacturer of candles, P&G sought to create an American soap that would compete with the more luxurious soaps imported from Europe. This led to the formulation of a silky, ultra white soap that was embedded with air bubbles, making it float on water. Over the last 132 years the Ivory packaging and logo have changed numerous times, going from ornamental logos to serifs to sans serifs to the latest version which looks like everything else you can buy at your national chain pharmacy. With the launch of a national ad campaign by Wieden + Kennedy, Ivory has introduced a new logo and packaging.
The new logo is an evolution of the elegant Ivory logo as it existed in the 1950s; it is clean and contemporary but has a classic, timeless quality. The familiar tag line “99.44% pure, clean and simple” has been retained and reinforces the product’s honest claim of pure simple ingredients. “Ivory is our oldest and most iconic brand, so it has special significance to P&G,” stated Jay Sethi, North America Beauty Brand Manager, P&G Beauty & Grooming. “While Ivory will always stand for value and simplicity, we’ve contemporized the brand to appeal to today’s busy moms and families.”
— Press materials provided
The old logo was utterly generic, looking no different from the various soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, and flosses that crowd our bathrooms. Not completely ugly, but far from representative of the simplicity of the soap. The new logo is simple alright. Set in everybody’s favorite, Gotham, with some slight modifications (see above). Although the taper of the “R” pays homage to both the dipping “R” of the previous logo and the 1955 package that inspired it (see mid-way below), it’s neither noticeable enough nor subtle enough to either notice it or ignore it. As a type tinkerer I immediately see something off. But as countless consumers see it, it probably won’t make a big difference. Something with a little more intention and flair like, say, Jonathan Barnbrook’s Priori Sans would have made it more contemporary. Nonetheless, anything that takes us away from those Toiletry Scripts is a win for me.
The campaign by W+K is, as usual, quite excellent. There is a boldness and simplicity to the copywriting and execution that gives Ivory a sense of confidence that no other soap can match.
And on to the new packaging, but first a trip through the ages:
A clear window at the top of the package allows people to see how many bars they are getting; this happens to be really great value. A clear and bright color system helps to identify other fragrances in the product line: blue for original, green for aloe, purple for lavender. Finally, each variant is enhanced with a simple hand drawn illustration to reinforce the fragrance (or lack thereof) and to add a light-hearted detail to the design.
— Press materials provided
The packaging is also a welcome respite from the gradients and curves of the old packaging and fits much better with today’s running trend in consumer packaging of stripping out all extraneous details. The color palette is fun and vibrant and being able to see the soap just makes you want to take a bite out of it. Although I like the hand-drawn bubbles on the “original” formula, I find the “aloe” and “lavender” illustrations cheapen the look a little bit. But, overall, for a bar of soap that floats on water, this whole new look is quite fitting.