Advertisement for Pears' Soap(014EVA000000000U07490000)
Medium: Print on paper
In 1789, Andrew Pears, a barber from Cornwall, established a shop in Gerrard Street, Soho, then a fashionable residential area of London. After some 18 years of trading, he realised the market potential for a more gentle cleansing product and developed a high quality, transparent amber soap with a delicate perfume of English garden flowers.
Thomas J Barratt, who later joined the firm as a partner, pioneered a number of highly original, sophisticated and expensive publicity schemes designed to improve the company's sales performance and withstand the threat of more competitive rivals. Of all his advertising symbols, perhaps the most instantly recognisable remains the painting 'Bubbles' by Sir John Everett Millais, then the most popular painter in Britain. 'More Bubbles' by Edouard Frére, as shown on this advertisement, soon followed.
Though these images of children, animals, flowers and beautiful women may appear sentimental today, they instantly appealed to Victorian tastes and successfully promoted the message that Pears' Soap was not only safe and healthy but made its users look more beautiful and youthful.