When Sir Alec Douglas Home became prime minster, he made a self-depreciating joke that he worked out the nation’s finances using matchsticks. His reputation never really recovered.
Labour, under its new, dynamic, ‘young’ leader Harold Wilson, made a big play on how the PM was out of touch. Labour, he said, wouldn’t use matchsticks: we’ll ask a scientist to use a computer for such things. The white heat of technology would sort out Britain’s problems.
The public really warmed to this idea. Technology, automation, computers – they were things of the future and they were happening now. Scientists, the guys (for it was always guys) behind these innovations, knew more and knew how to find out more stuff. Advertisers leapt on this concept.
Washing powder adverts ceased to show a man in a suit explaining the benefits of the new Whizzo brand to a frazzled housewife. Instead, the actor donned a white coat and explained that the benefits of the new Whizzo were due to science. All manner of other products donned this scientific mantle, with everything from bread (our bread is lighter due to science!) to central heating (our boilers are more efficient due to science!) getting a man in a white coat to explain how wonderfully scientific each product was.
Here, featuring the frazzled housewife, the man in a white coat and a series of scientific-looking diagrams, Gibbs uses science to explain why you should switch to their scientifically proven scientific toothpaste with the scientific addition of science-based fluoride.