1939 Cliffchar ad: “Keeping ‘Adam’s Ale’ Up to Par!”

A Productive Agency Partnership

The agency that created this ad – MacManus, John & Adams, Inc. – was founded by copywriter Theodore MacManus, famous for his advertising work with corporations such as General Motors and Dow. His agency paired detailed illustrations with rich, even poetic copy – an approach MacManus preferred to the “hard sell” approach of most advertising. Featured in this headline, “Adam’s Ale” is an old saying that means pure, unadulterated water – a clever way to connect to the golf course/water fountain visual that would have resonated with audiences of the time period.

New Territory in Chemistry – and in Michigan

Published at end of the Depression era, the ad reflects a time of manufacturing growth and hope for a return to economic prosperity. At the time, Dow was entering the field of wood chemistry, which led it to Michigan’s upper peninsula and to Cliffs Dow Chemical Company, a joint venture with Cliffs-Cleveland Iron Company (CCI) in Marquette, Michigan. Cliffchar, the activated carbon product featured in the ad, was made by CCI and was used to purify municipal drinking water. Dow’s commitment to preserving and restoring the world’s water supply and ensuring access to clean water continues today.

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