Ajax (cleaning product)
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(US and Canadian detergents rights owned by Phoenix Brands)
Ajax is a brand of cleaning products, introduced by Colgate-Palmolive in 1947 for a powdered household and industrial cleaner. It was one of the company's first major brands. The ingredients of its scouring cleanser product include sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, sodium carbonate, and quartz.
The Ajax name was successfully transferred to an entire line of household cleaning products and detergents; the line enjoyed its greatest success in the 1960s and early 70s. Ajax All-Purpose Cleaner with Ammonia, introduced in 1962, was the first major competitor to Mr. Clean, which Procter and Gamble debuted in 1958. Ajax' success as the so-called "White Tornado" forced Procter and Gamble to introduce its own ammoniated cleaner, Top Job, in 1963.
Other Ajax products included Ajax Bucket of Powder, an ammoniated power floor cleaner, introduced in 1943; Ajax Laundry Detergent in 1964; Ajax Window Cleaner with Hex ammonia in 1965 and a short-lived spray cleaner in 1960. The last successful Ajax line extension in North America, Ajax for Dishes, debuted in 1971; now known as Ajax Dishwashing Liquid, it and the flagship powdered cleanser are the only two Ajax products sold to consumers by Colgate in the US. The brand name continues on a line of industrial detergents, cleaners and disinfectants. Colgate-Palmolive Company sold the US and Canadian rights to the Ajax brand name on laundry detergents, as well as to other laundry products as Fab and Cold Power, to Phoenix Brands in 2005.
Ajax Laundry Detergent was available in a liquid formula, with and without bleach, beginning in the mid-1980s.
The original slogan for Ajax powder was "Stronger than dirt!". This was a reference to the muscular character Ajax of Greek mythology. Some Ajax dish soaps now feature the trademarked slogan "Stronger than grease!" which may be a pun on "Greece." (This would imply that the hero Ajax was an adversary of Greece. He actually fought for the Greek army against the Trojans, though it could also simply imply that Ajax the hero, renowned for his strength, was stronger than the rest of Greece) However, the name Ajax may also reference an old British name for toilet, "the jakes". Another early slogan was "Ajax... the foaming cleanser!"
The first slogan would be used again for its Ajax Laundry Detergent, when introduced in the early 1960s, with an armed knight riding a white horse. At the end of the Doors song "Touch Me", Jim Morrison can be heard saying the slogan "Stronger Than Dirt". The Doors were sued by AJAX for plagiarizing the use of their trademark. The Doors paid the financial damages in a settlement. A widely mocked commercial in the late 1970s and early 1980s declared, "Armed... with AJAX!"
In the UK, character actress Ann Lancaster appeared on television advertisements featuring the slogan, "It cleans like a white tornado". However, Colgate ceased all UK advertising for the brand in 1996.
In Australia, a number of memorable, if widely panned, television commercials were produced for Ajax Spray n' Wipe from around 1988 to 2010, which were all accompanied with the same music, and featured soap actress Paula Duncan and the same family members.
- The History of Soaps and Detergents, About.com
- Product Name: Ajax Scouring Cleanser. Household Products Database. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Ajax products page at Colgate Commercial
- Home care in New Zealand, Euromonitor report, July 2010. "Ranked second was Colgate-Palmolive holding 20% value share, with its leading surface care brand Ajax." Retrieved 2011-04-27
- If Walls Could Talk, BBC Four documentary programme, 9 p.m., 20 April 2011. Looking at the evolution of the British bathroom down the years, Dr Lucy Worsley stated that the name 'Ajax' derived from "the jakes".
- Myrna Oliver (2004-08-02). "Obituaries; Eugene Roche, 75; Character Actor in Films, Television". Los Angeles Times.
- Axe looms over AJAX as Colgate ditches support, Marketing Week, 19 Jan 1996. Retrieved 2011-04-27
- Ajax product page on Colgate consumer website