The Clorox Building, Clorox's diamond-shaped headquarters in Oakland
|Founded||Oakland, California, U.S. (May 3, 1913 )|
|Headquarters||Clorox Building, Oakland, California, U.S.|
|Revenue||US$5.5 Billion (2014)|
|US$977 Million (2014)|
|US$579 Million (2014)|
|Total assets||US$4.3 Billion (2014)|
|Total equity||US$154 Million (2014)|
Number of employees
|Slogan||We make everyday life better, every day|
The Clorox Company, based in Oakland, California, is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer and professional products with approximately 7,700 employees worldwide as of Dec. 1, 2014. The company’s fiscal year 2014 net sales were $5.5 billion, which ranked #451 on Fortune’s 2014 Fortune 500 list.
Clorox products are sold primarily through mass merchandisers, retail outlets, e-commerce channels, distributors and medical supply providers. Clorox brands include its namesake bleach and cleaning products, as well as Brita, Burt's Bees, Formula 409, Glad, Hidden Valley, Kitchen Bouquet, KC Masterpiece, Soy Vay, Kingsford, Liquid-Plumr, Mistolin, Pine-Sol, Poett, Tilex, S.O.S., and Fresh Step, Scoop Away and Ever Clean cat litters.
In 2011, The Clorox Company integrated corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting with financial reporting. The company’s annual report for the fiscal year ending in June 2011 shared data on financial performance as well as advances in environmental, social and governance performance.
The product and the company date back to May 3, 1913, when five entrepreneurs, Archibald Taft, a banker; Edward Hughes, a purveyor of wood and coal; Charles Husband, a bookkeeper; Rufus Myers, a lawyer; and William Hussey, a miner, invested $100 each to set up the first commercial-scale liquid bleach factory in the United States, on the east side of San Francisco Bay. The firm was first called the Electro-Alkaline Company. The name of its original bleach product, Clorox, was coined as a portmanteau of chlorine and sodium hydroxide, the two main ingredients. The original Clorox packaging featured a diamond-shaped logo, and the diamond shape has persisted in one form or another in Clorox branding to the present.
The public, however, didn't know very much about liquid bleach when Clorox bleach debuted. Although the Electro-Alkaline Company started slowly, and was about to collapse quickly, it would not be until 1916 when investor William Murray took over the company as general manager. His wife, Annie Murray, prompts the creation of a less-concentrated liquid bleach for home use. She builds customer demand by giving away 15-ounce sample bottles at the family's grocery store in downtown Oakland. Not long after, word began to spread and, in 1917, the Electro-Alkaline Company began shipping Clorox bleach to the East Coast via the Panama Canal.
In 1928, the company went public on the San Francisco stock exchange and changed its name to the Clorox Chemical Company. "Butch," an animated Clorox liquid bleach bottle, was used in advertising and became well-known, even surviving the 1941 transition from rubber-stoppered bottles to ones with screw-off caps.
The Clorox Chemical Company was strong enough to survive the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, achieving national distribution of Clorox bleach in the process, but during World War II, even though Clorox bleach proved useful as a first aid product for American armed forces, one of the bleach's ingredients was being rationed, as, under U.S. government orders, chlorine gas shortages forced many bleach manufacturers to reduce the concentration of sodium hypochlorite in their products, thus diluting them with water. Clorox, however, declined and elected to sell fewer units of a full-strength product, establishing a reputation for quality.
In 1957, Clorox was purchased by Procter & Gamble, which renamed its new subsidiary "The Clorox Company." Almost immediately, a rival company objected to the purchase, and it was challenged by the Federal Trade Commission, which feared it would stifle competition in the household products market. The FTC won in 1967 after a 10-year battle, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that P&G must divest The Clorox Company, and on January 1, 1969, Clorox became independent again.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Clorox pursued an aggressive expansion program in which it attempted to establish itself as a major diversified consumer products conglomerate, like P&G. In 1970, Clorox introduced Clorox 2 all-fabric bleach. Later on in that period, it acquired a number of brands that remain a part of their portfolio today, including Formula 409, Liquid-Plumr, Kingsford charcoal and developed cleaning products such as Tilex instant mildew remover. It even acquired a ranch dressing that was still new to the market, which was known as "Hidden Valley."
In 1988, Clorox struck a licensing-and-distribution agreement that brought Brita water filters to the U.S.; the company acquired sole control of the brand in 1995 when it acquired Brita International Holdings.
In 1999, Clorox acquired First Brands, the former consumer products division of Union Carbide, in the largest transaction in its history. Such brands as Glad, Handi-Wipes (which First Brands acquired from Colgate-Palmolive several months before the Clorox acquisition) and STP became part of the Clorox portfolio. The First Brands acquisition doubled the size of the company and helped it land on the Fortune 500 for the first time the following year.
During the next decade, the company focused on consumer megatrends that included sustainability, health and wellness, multicultural, and affordability/value. In 2002, Clorox entered into a joint venture with Procter & Gamble to create food and trash bags, food wraps, and containers under the names Glad, GladWare and related trademarks. As part of this agreement, Clorox sold a 10% stake in the Glad products to P&G, which increased to 20% in 2005.
In 2007, the company acquired Burt’s Bees. The next year, it became the first U.S. marketer to develop and nationally launch a natural cleaning line, Green Works, into the mainstream cleaning aisle. in 2010, Clorox shed businesses that were no longer a good strategic fit for the company, announcing that it was selling the Armor All and STP brands to Avista Capital Partners. In 2011, Clorox acquired the Aplicare and HealthLink brands, bolstering its presence in the healthcare industry. With about 7,700 Clorox employees worldwide as of Dec. 1, 2014, the company’s fiscal year 2014 net sales were $5.5 billion, which ranked #451 on Fortune’s 2014 Fortune 500 list.
The Clorox Company currently owns a number of well-known household and professional brands across a wide variety of products, among them:
- Brita water filtration systems
- Burt's Bees natural cosmetics and personal care products
- Fresh Step, Scoop Away and Ever Clean cat litters
- Formula 409 hard surface cleaners
- Glad storage bags, trash bags, Press'n Seal, GladWare containers (joint venture with P&G as 20% minority shareholder)
- Hidden Valley dressings, sandwich spreads and condiments, dips and dressing mixes, croutons and salad toppins, side dishes and appetizers
- Green Works natural cleaners
- Kitchen Bouquet, KC Masterpiece, and Soy Vay sauces
- Kingsford charcoal
- Lestoil Heavyduty Laundry / Multipurpose Cleaner
- Liquid-Plumr drain cleaner
- Pine-Sol, Tilex, and S.O.S cleaning products
For historical reasons, and in certain markets, the company's bleach products are sold under regional brands. In 2006, Clorox acquired the Javex line of bleach products in Canada, and similar product lines in parts of Latin and South America, from Colgate-Palmolive.
Clorox's Net Sales (2012–2014)
|(Dollars in millions)||2014||2013||2012|
Sometimes confused with chlorine bleach, household bleach has a completely different chemistry. Household bleach is a chemically-combined oxidizing agent that is used to remove or lighten color. Clorox bleach is derived from sodium chloride – common table salt. Clorox produces household bleach by bubbling chlorine into a solution of water and sodium hydroxide. During this process, the chlorine is converted to a sodium hypochlorite solution. The ingredients in Clorox bleach are water, sodium hypochlorite (used to whiten and kill bacteria), sodium chloride, sodium carbonate (removes alcohol and grease stains), sodium chlorate, sodium hydroxide (removes soils that are fatty, oily, or acidic), and sodium polyacrylate.
In 2011, The Clorox Company became an early adopter of a corporate trend to integrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting with financial reporting. The company’s annual report for the fiscal year ending in June 2011 shared data on financial performance as well as advances in environmental, social and governance performance.
In 2012, Clorox “Bleachable Moments,” a national television ad campaign targeted to young adults, garnered silver and bronze Clio awards for DDB San Francisco, the agency that produced the ads. Another ad produced by DDB in 2012, a suggestive Liquid Plumr spot titled “Double Impact,” was named Advertising Age’s Viral Video of the Year in the :60 spot category.
Allegations of sexism
During 2006 and 2007, a Clorox commercial that aired nationally showed several generations of women doing laundry. The commercial included the words "Your mother, your grandmother, her mother, they all did the laundry, maybe even a man or two." Feminists criticized the commercial for insinuating that doing laundry is a job for women only.
The Clorox slogan, "Mama's got the magic of Clorox," was criticized on similar grounds. The slogan first appeared in a Clorox commercial in 1986. A modified version of the commercial ran from 2002 to 2004.
In 2009, Clorox received complaints of sexism for an advertisement that featured a man's white, lipstick-stained dress shirt with the caption, "Clorox. Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations." The ad, and others, were produced expressly for the television program Mad Men, capitalizing on “the show’s unique vintage style to [create] a link between classic and modern consumer behaviors.”
Questioned product claims
In 2008, the Sierra Club endorsed the Clorox Green Works line. Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope stated that one of non-profit organization's "primary goals is to foster vibrant, healthy communities with clean water and air that are free from pollution. Products like Green Works help to achieve this goal in the home.” The Sierra Club also partnered with Clorox “to promote a line of natural cleaning products for consumers who are moving toward a greener lifestyle." The partnership "caused schisms" in the club, which contributed in part to Pope's decision to resign.
Also in 2008, the National Advertising Division told Clorox to either discontinue or modify its advertisements for Green Works on the grounds the cleaners actually do not work as well as traditional cleaners, as Clorox had claimed.
In 2009, Clorox received further criticism for its Clorox Green Works line, regarding claims the products are environmentally friendly. Several Clorox Green Works products contain ethanol, which environmental groups state is neither cost-effective nor eco-friendly. Many Green Works products also contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a known skin irritant. Some have also questioned whether or not the Clorox Green Works line is greenwashing, as Clorox's "green" products are far outnumbered by their traditional products. Environmentalists have asked, "Why sell one set of products that have hazardous ingredients and others that don't?"
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