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An Analysis of 6 Decades of Hygiene-Related Advertising: 1940-2000


Aiello, Allison E. & Larson, Elaine L. (2001). An Analysis of 6 Decades of Hygiene-Related Advertising: 1940-2000. American Journal of Infection Control, 29(6), 383-388.


OBJECTIVES: To describe and analyze trends in hygiene-related advertisements and examine potential social and regulatory changes that might be associated with these trends.
METHODS: From 1940 to 2000, advertisements in January issues of 2 widely read magazines were analyzed every fifth year, and 2 additional magazines only available from 1960 to 2000 were also analyzed every fifth year. In a content analysis, the total number of advertisements were determined and specific advertisements were grouped into categories (personal hygiene, dishwashing, laundry, and house cleaning) and further examined for the presence of 4 key claims (aesthetics, health effects, time-saving, and microbial effects).
RESULTS: From 1940 to 2000 for all magazines combined, 10.4% of the advertisements were devoted to hygiene products. After 1960 there were significantly fewer hygiene advertisements as compared with 1940 to 1955, and there was a significant increase after 1980 (P <.00001). Throughout all 6 decades, most advertisements related to personal hygiene. There were no significant differences over time in the proportion of advertisements that made claims related to health, microbial effects, or aesthetics, but significantly more advertisements before 1960 made time-savings claims (P =.009).
CONCLUSIONS: This content analysis reflects a cyclical attention in consumer advertising to personal and home hygiene products during the past 6 decades, with a waning of interest in the decades from 1960 to 1980 and an apparent resurgence of advertisements from 1985 to 2000. The potential contributions of federal regulatory bodies and societal changes (e.g., new marketing strategies and options, product development, new and re-emerging infectious diseases, increasing concern about antimicrobial resistance, and increasing recognition that infectious diseases are unlikely to be eradicated) to these marketing trends are discussed.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Infection Control


Aiello, Allison E.
Larson, Elaine L.