The Great Depression was trying for most companies, especially consumer product companies. Somehow, Procter & Gamble came out of the Great Depression better than it had in 1929. How did the soap giant beat the Depression? Things were tough when mainstay grocery customers started cutting their orders and inventories piled up. But P&G saw that even in a depression people would need soap.
So, what did they do? Instead of reducing its advertising efforts to cut costs, the company actively pursued new marketing avenues, including commercial radio broadcasts. One of these tactics involved sponsoring daily radio serials aimed at homemakers, the company’s core market. In 1933, P&G debuted its first serial, Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins, and women around the country quickly fell in love with the tales of the kind widow. The program was so successful that P&G started producing similar programs to support its other brands, and by 1939, the company was producing 21 radio shows—and pioneering the “soap opera.” In 1950, P&G made the first ongoing television soap opera, The First Hundred Years.