Birth of an Icon: Charmin

The story of Charmin, P&G’s first step into the paper products business, is one of patience and perseverance, frustration and near-failure, that led to game-changing success for an everyday product.

It started in 1957, when we purchased a Wisconsin-based tissue maker called The Charmin Paper Company. P&G was in the midst of an acquisition and expansion phase into new products and geographies, and this would be our entry into the growing consumer paper products category.

Charmin products benefitted immediately from our business model…but then sales leveled off and stayed there for about six years. At that point, company leadership decided to make a significant investment to improve the paper products business, or sell it off.

We set out to make a tissue paper that people would prefer – one that was softer and more absorbent. We modified our process to improve the product, changed the packaging and set out to tell people about it.

We launched a marketing campaign featuring fussy grocer, Mr. Whipple, who promoted Charmin’s "squeezable softness." For more than 20 years, Mr. Whipple pitched the tissue paper and become one of P&G’s most memorable advertising icons.

Within two years, Charmin was the top-selling bathroom tissue in the U.S., firmly establishing P&G’s paper business and paving the way for the success and expansion of other paper brands like Bounty and Puffs.

In time, this new paper products division (including disposable diapers) would become the biggest of P&G’s new businesses, driving most of the company’s expansion in the 1960s and 1970s.

More than 50 years later, Charmin is still revolutionizing the category with products like Charmin Sensitive, the only bathroom tissue in the world that contains a soothing lotion, and variations like Charmin Ultra Soft, Charmin Ultra Strong and Charmin Freshmates Flushable Wipes.

Simple, “squeezable softness” turned out to be revolutionary. And now a part of everyday for millions around the world.