It’s Always About the Customer

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Cellophane advertised as a way to cut costs on important home goods, 1935 (Series I, Box 43, Folder 14, ‘Advertising tearsheets – 1935’, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Advertising Department records (Accession 1803), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

Marketers developed an identity around cellophane consumers that soon ingrained itself in American culture. Cellophane was the packaging material of choice for smart, refined, practical shoppers. Although people ultimately disposed of cellophane wrappers, use of the wrappers prevented food waste. At the height of the Depression, a columnist for the Saturday Evening Post told readers: “It’s no news to any woman who keeps house, that stale food usually is thrown out half eaten. That’s just like burning up dollar bills. I guard against such waste by buying cellophane wrapped products.”[1] Cellophane made the wrapping of individual units of food more efficient, allowing shoppers to only buy what they needed rather than buying in bulk.[2-3]

 

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A wife being praised for her purchases of goods wrapped in waste-reducing cellophane, 1952 (Series I, Box 43, Folder 29, ‘Advertising tearsheets – 1952’, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Advertising Department records (Accession 1803), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

The consumer identity attached to purchasers of cellophane-wrapped goods stressed how important smart shopping was to housewives. This meant not only saving money and food, but also purchasing trusted, nutritious brands loved by the whole family.[4] Ads depicted mothers and wives as providers of happiness to their household. They suggested that, through their purchases of high-quality products that also reduced waste, husbands and children could lead healthier, happier lives.[5] These ads created by DuPont for placement in national magazines drove home this point: children and husbands love the food they get in cellophane, and the mother becomes the star of the family. Marketers portrayed cellophane as a product that embodied the new consumer values of convenience, thrift, and family harmony. If you could peek into the average person’s shopping basket in the 1950s, you would see that shoppers embraced this new identity. The average shopper was sold on cellophane.

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Wives delighted by how easy cellophane makes cooking delicious family meals, 1939 (Series I, Box 43, Folder 18, ‘Advertising tearsheets – 1939, 193?’, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Advertising Department records (Accession 1803), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

 

X. Quality You can See⇒


[1] Meet Mrs. Allen, 1934, Advertisement 3-34, originally published in the Saturday Evening Post

[2] Meet  Mrs. Allen: http://digital.hagley.org/2012_06_13_Meet_Mrs_Allen?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=c3f04145fc245a9cce8e&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=3&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=3#page/23/mode/1up/search/cellophane+cigar; “You Make Money Because of This Protection : DuPont Cellophane,” DuPont Ad Dept. Records, 1935: http://digital.hagley.org/dpads_1803_00235?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=2720c4167d14675562dc&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=3&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=12; “This Protection Puts Money in Your Purse : DuPont Cellophane,” DuPont Ad Dept. Records, 1935: http://digital.hagley.org/dpads_1803_00244?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=2720c4167d14675562dc&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=3&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=18; Better Living, 1957, pg. 32-33.

[3] DuPont Magazine, v. 20, no.7, 1926

[4] Better Living, November/December 1957, pg. 31.

[5] “I Sure Married One Smart Shopper!’ Here Are Four Good Reasons Mrs. Webb Buys Food in Cellophane,” DuPont Ad Dept. Records, 1952: http://digital.hagley.org/dpads_1803_00358?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=da8724e6b439551334f9&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=0&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=0; “How Five Sharp – Eyed Housewives Got Ideas for Dinner Tonight! DuPont Cellophane,” DuPont Ad Dept. Records, 1939: http://digital.hagley.org/dpads_1803_00510?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=cf7936f33921b6b24416&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=1&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=6; “Happy Eating … Fresh, Crisp Chips : DuPont Cellophane,” DuPont Ad Dept. Records, 1959: http://digital.hagley.org/dpads_1803_00463?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=0787c752936855dfc31d&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=0&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=12; “Proper nutrition demands fresh, flavorful food,” DuPont Ad Dept. Records, 1942: http://digital.hagley.org/dpads_1803_00543?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=28e5f232321a0a5bd401&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=4&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=19.

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