One of advertising’s true pioneers, Harley Procter developed techniques and methods that have since become standard practice, leaving an indelible mark on the face of modern advertising. Son of a founding partner, he joined the family firm, Procter & Gamble, in 1868, when it was a small local enterprise with three salesmen and a total advertising budget of $3,000 in 1869.
At a time when his firm, and many others, used calling card notices as advertising, he boldly changed the practice to the use of full pages, with color, as the means of promoting the soap products of his company, which he served as sales manager.
He took the firm’s "White Soap" and renamed it "Ivory" on an inspiration that came from hearing a passage from Psalms 45:8: "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad."
Ivory’s subsequent progress to becoming virtually a household word in the United States and many other countries was achieved in great measure through Harley Procter’s innovations in advertising and merchandising, as well as development of product features. He coined the slogan "99 44/100% pure" from chemists’ reports, having obtained the famous number by adding the results and averaging them. He designed the first wrapper for Ivory and patented the notched bar which serves as identification.
His advertising was distinguished by warm, friendly copy; some ads featuring verse and other humor. All the ads were well-illustrated, many of the pictures appearing in color. In other campaigns, he used testimonials signed by leading chemists. He commissioned the best illustrators of the day for his magazine advertisements. Procter made use of other media as well, notably outdoor advertisements, with the unique idea of using a photographic enlargement as an illustration.
While the advertising was instituted in the 1880s, its standards of sincerity, service and good value are being followed today — and its effects are a cumulative result that is the admiration and envy of all who sell consumer products.
Harley Procter and his brilliant thinking laid the cornerstone of Procter & Gamble’s present prosperity in its formative years. He swept the company into the big time in little more than the 20 years he headed sales. He retired from active business at the age of 45 to travel and lived in Paris, London and Egypt.