Memorable Advertising: Burma-Shave

Quite randomly yesterday morning, while I was at work, I remembered an old advertising campaign that I had heard about, for Burma-Shave, which led me to look it up on Wikipedia. This campaign, which ran between 1925 and 1963, I first heard about in the pilot episode of an old science fiction television show called Quantum Leap, and I imagine I asked my dad about it then, though I’d forgotten about it until yesterday.

The campaign for for shaving cream, which was advertised by about six small billboards on the highway, that usually ended in Burma-Shave, and they were often funny. For example:

Every shaver / Now can snore / Six more minutes / Than before / By using / Burma-Shave

And many of the signs had public service messages, such as:

Don’t take a curve / at 60 per / we hate to lose / a customer / Burma-Shave

This was a very unique and memorable way to advertise, enough that it stuck out to me, and I only saw it on TV once. Apparently they had around 600 different messages on highways across the United States, but they were discontinued, partly because of money, partly because highway speeds gradually increased to the point where reading the signs became difficult. And apparently it was so common to see these signs that one of them didn’t even mention the product name:

If you / Don’t know / Whose signs / These are / You can’t have / Driven very far

When I asked a few of my coworkers if they’d heard of Burma-Shave, no one knew what I was talking about. Am I the last one in my generation to know about this? Who else has heard of this? And if you’re interested in reading about it, check out the Wikipedia page here.

And now that I think about it, there are a lot of catchy commercials that were memorable enough to get stuck in my head from my childhood. (Or I watched too much TV as a kid.) I’m sure my sisters will remember them, too. Things like “Oh, daddy. You paid too much for that camcorder.” and “The best part of waking up/Is Folgers in your cup.”

So what advertisement has stuck out to you? What did you see years ago that is still stuck in your head?


1 thought on “Memorable Advertising: Burma-Shave

  1. I learned about the Burma Shave advertisements in my college history class. I thought it was great! I don’t really remember too many ads from my childhood, besides folgers…. I also have the daisy sour cream commercial jingle memorized 😉

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