How Coppertone and their Iconic Sunscreen Ad Developed from World War II

Have you ever wondered how Coppertone and their iconic white-bottomed toddler ad came about?

Well, sunbathers can thank a World War II veteran for the development of Coppertone and their iconic ad.

While serving as an airman during World War II in 1944, Benjamin Green was on a mission to help protect soldier's skin from the tropical, blistering sun. He began using red veterinary petrolatum, or “red pet vet” on his skin and distributing it to Army Air Corps members, but it was a thick salve with a bad odor. However, this first formula proved very effective and useful to block the sun.

This gave Benjamin the fuel to experiment further with adding ingredients to enhance the effectiveness and mask the smell, including cocoa butter, jasmine and coconut oil. This ultimately became the foundational formula for the global brand Coppertone.

It wasn't until 1953 that the company became famous when they introduced the Coppertone girl, an advertisement showing a young blonde girl in pigtails staring in surprise as a Cocker Spaniel puppy sneaks up behind her and pulls down her blue swimsuit bottom, revealing her bottom to have a lighter tone than the rest of her body. This ad campaign blew up company recognition and sales in the 50's, and the brand is still going strong today. Currently, Coppertone is one of the most popular sunscreens in America grossing more than $9B in annual sales.

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