Adscape: Wildroot Cream Oil

Here are several facts about Wildroot Cream Oil:

1) Roughly zero people use Wildroot Cream Oil today.

2) If one goes by the ads alone, approximately one hundred percent of people used to use Wildroot Cream Oil.

3) This is possibly because Wildroot Cream Oil had one of the greatest jingles of all time. If I had the opportunity and/or the hair, I would be sporting a cream-oiled coiffure this very moment. I sometimes find myself singing it while going about my day, and I cannot help that I am doing so.

4) Not content to rest on their musical laurels, the folks down at Wildroot had their fingers in a multitude of advertising pies, and evidently comic books were a fertile source of cream oil customers, because they sport such ads up until at least the mid-Sixties.

4a)The most basic of these ads took the form of one- or three-panel gag strips, wherein users of Wildroot Cream Oil might get the girl:

Or non-users might be set up as an unflattering mirror to the un-cream oiled reader. How will you every get the girl if you look like this, after all?

Or - and perhaps more disturbingly than intended - Wildroot Cream Oil could be portrayed as more important than the girl, as a necessity of life to be considered before all other things.

4b) About the time that Wildroot was sponsoring the Sam Spade radio program, the company's print advertising started featuring the detective as well. The number of crimes solved due to the absence, application or in one case aerial bombardment of hair tonic reached levels unheard-of before or since.

Notably, however, since this was the radio Sam Spade and not the novel or movie version, there was never an instance of Sam ruthlessly manipulating a collection of colourful underworld characters into betraying and murdering one another over a bottle of Wildroot. Which is a shame, because advertising needs more melancholy tales of moral ambiguity and bittersweet revenge.

4c) And then, presumably, Wildroot's Sam Spade contract ran out, because there was a new perfectly groomed detective in town: Charlie Wild.

Charlie Wild's adventures tended to be a bit more abbreviated than Sam Spade's, but they conveyed the same basic message: if your hair is messy then you have two basic career paths, criminal...

... or loser. Conversely, of course, an application of a certain popular name-brand hair tonic both signified virtue and raised esteem.


Even Charlie Wild, however, was not immune to the eerily addictive effects of Wildroot.

4d) And finally, there's Fearless Fosdick.

Fosdick, of course, was Al Capp's parody of Dick Tracy that existed as a comic-within-a-comic in the strip Lil' Abner - which is possibly the most convoluted explanation of a licensed property that I have ever had to give - and as such was probably the source of some of the most absurdly entertaining of the Wildroot ads.


His most endearing feature as a corporate shill, though, is that he's just as dang fond of the jingle as I am.

(Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie...)