Surf (detergent)

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Owner Sun Products (U.S.)
Unilever PH (Philippines)
Introduced 1959; 58 years ago (1959) (United States), 1990; 27 years ago (1990) (Philippines)
OMO ad in Rotterdam

Surf is a brand of laundry detergent made by Unilever and sold in Philippines, Kenya, India, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa and many other countries. In the United States, the Surf product line is owned by Sun Products. The brand Omo was used when it was introduced in Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia and South Africa, both Surf and Omo are sold and they are top-selling laundry detergents in Australia.[citation needed]

Surf was introduced in 1959 after Rinso, which had been Lever's best selling detergent brand, had declined in sales and market share.[citation needed] Formulations of the detergent and the market segment targeted vary by region; in some countries Unilever also markets Persil detergent (but in others Persil is a Henkel brand).


Unilever markets detergent products internationally and uses individual sub-brands to segment those markets. This tactic is also employed by Procter & Gamble, Unilever's main competitor.

The company has several key detergent brands. Their premium brand in most markets is "Omo" (launched in 1952 in the Netherlands, in other countries in 1954).[1] Surf is usually its secondary brand.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, Unilever has rights to the Persil brand, and uses it to market their premium detergent products. The Omo brand is no longer sold in the United Kingdom.

In Cyprus, Greece, France, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Argentina and Uruguay, Unilever's premium product is "Skip". In Cyprus, Greece, France and South Africa Omo is used as a secondary brand. In the French market, Unilever also has rights to the Persil brand and uses it to market a range of sensitive and natural detergents.

In Australia, Unilever markets Drive as a premium brand, Omo as a second tier brand, and Surf as a fighting brand.

In India, Surf Excel is Unilever's premium brand. Rin is usually the secondary brand.

In Malaysia and Singapore, Unilever did not use Omo nor Surf as its detergent brand, but instead using the name Breeze and Ekonomi Handalan, respectively. In those countries, Unilever also had the rights to its Persil name, which was mainly used for frontload washing machines.

In the Philippines, Surf is regarded as Unilever's flagship detergent brand, replacing Breeze (from 1993-2003) and Sunlight (1991-1999). The ad campaign "Lumen", which is about the right spending on savings, boosts sales of Surf products that other countries followed. Surf has also produced dishwashing liquid, fabric conditioner and liquid detergent (a first of its kind in the Philippines). In 2013 it was re-launched as Breeze detergent with ActivBleach together with Surf Fabric Conditioner.

In Belgium, the Omo brand vanished at the end of 2009. Unilever replaced it with the Coral brand.

In Romania, the most popular detergent is DERO (which is an abbreviation for "DEtergent ROmânesc" - Romanian Detergent). DERO is the local version of Surf. Unilever also use Omo as a premium brand in Romania.

In Brazil and Turkey, Unilever's Omo is the leading brand of laundry detergent, with "Omo" closely becoming a genericized trademark in these countries.

In Pakistan, Surf has been so popular for decades that the word used for any detergent in Urdu is "Surf".

In Germany, Unilever's Omo is always sold (in 2012).

In Poland, Omo was one of the most popular and renowned detergent in the 1990s. The brand was discontinued in the early 2000s.

In Tunisia, all the detergents became called Omo after introducing it in the country. This is still the only name for "detergent".

A 2009 South African Omo marketing campaign prompted accusations of racism, a black consumer boycott, and an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.[2]


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