The Campana Company

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The Campana Company was a major manufacturer of cosmetics in the early to mid-20th century. See also Campana Factory.


The Campana Company was incorporated in 1927. Its first product was Italian Balm, a hand lotion. The formula was purchased from a Dr. Campana, from where the company derives its name. Although the company first operated only two years before the start of The Great Depression, they were initially very prosperous. This was because of innovative methods of advertising promoted by their owner, Ernest Morgan Oswalt. Campana was one of the first companies to offer free cosmetics samples in magazines, a method that is still extensively used to this day. A second method of advertising was the use of radio commercials. Oswalt hired writer Florence Ward to create a radio variety show that would feature commercials for the company. The show, The First Nighter Program, was very successful and ran for twenty-two years. The company's treasurer and Oswalt's nephew, I. Willard Crull, would write over a hundred radio plays for the program under the pen-name, Anthony Wayne.[1] Due in part to these commercials, Italian Balm became one of the best-selling hand lotions in the United States. Spinoffs from First Nighter also included Grand Hotel. Campana sponsored First Nighter also premiered on ABC Television's prime time schedule in 1950. Its Wednesday night time slot was eight p.m., which had it competing against NBC's Four Star Revue and CBS's Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (a program that had already "shot to the top of the TV ratings and stayed there for several years").[2]

By the late 1930s, The Campana Company wanted a new factory to keep up with the high demand for their product. Oswalt wanted a building that would reflect the modern appeal of his products, and commissioned a Streamline Moderne building in Batavia, Illinois. The Campana Factory featured many new technologies, including air conditioning. At this time, an adage was added to the English lexicon, "To work at Campana is like being a member of Frederick Stock's musical ensemble".[3]

The Campana Factory had to change the name of its popular lotion to Campana Balm after World War II due to growing anti-Italian sentiment. Campana Balm was carried by every U.S. soldier and serviceman to prevent or heal burns. By the late 1940s, I. Willard Crull (he had been president since 1942 but spent more time developing perfume lines) took full rein of Campana. He would serve as its president until his retirement in the mid-1970s. He had already expanded the company in the 1940s with Parfums Anjou and would thereafter acquire Old South Toiletries. They would provide stiff competition for French perfumers as Cosmopolitan Magazine highlighted in 1956.[4]

Campana's takeover of Carlay Company brought the "Ayds Reducing Plan vitamins and mineral candy" into the Campana product line fold. The merger with Allied Laboratories of Kansas City in the mid-1950s left Crull in charge. Crull engineered Campana's sale to Dow Chemical. Although Campana's product line was not compatible with Dow's, Crull was still tapped to serve as an interim president of Dow for a few months which allowed him time to seek a more compatible suitor for Campana. Purex would subsequently buy Campana with Crull serving as the head of its toiletries division while Campana was able to function as a separate company with him at its head. After Crull retired in the 1970s, Purex retained some of Campana's product lines while selling off others.[5] Thereafter, Purex relocated the workers and shut down Campana operations.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ List of Brown University people
  2. ^ Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. New York, Ballantine Books, sixth revised edition, 1995. pp. 34, 59,n 60, 61, 355, 371, and 1171
  3. ^ It equated working at Campana like playing for the Chicago Symphony
  4. ^ Harriet La Barre. "What Goes On At Cosmopolitan: An American perfumer noses out French competition with new bottled magic" Cosmopolitan Magazine. Vol. 141, No. 5, November 1956, p. 4.
  5. ^ "a,b,c,...." Standard & Poor Directory of Corporations and Executives, Volumes 1965-77. New York: Standard & Poor