Morton Salt Girl turns 100 [The Hutchinson News, Kan. :: ]
(Hutchinson News, The (KS) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 19--This year the Morton Salt Girl turns 100 and the Morton Salt company, which has operated an evaporative salt plant in South Hutchinson since 1899, is celebrating.
It's a moment, however, that almost wasn't.
In 1911, the then-63-year-old Chicago-based company developed an anti-caking salt, a major product innovation at the time that prevented the table salt from clumping in moist environments.
Then, in 1914, the company developed a new round package with a patented pourable spout. That replaced bulk bags and bins most salt was sold in at the time, said Denise Lauer, director of communications for Morton Salt.
To promote its product advancements, the company hired a major Philadelphia-based advertising agency, N.W. Ayer and Company, to develop a national marketing campaign.
The agency pitched a series of a dozen ads to run in Good Housekeeping magazine.
The ad firm proposed several different plans, but Sterling Morton, the son of founder Joy Morton, noticed one which had been disregarded and was on the cutting room floor that became the campaign.
A little girl
That idea featured an umbrella-toting 8-year-old girl who was accidentally pouring salt from a package under her arm while walking in the rain, along with the slogan, "When it rains, it pours."
While a well-known proverb of the time -- meaning when things go wrong, they tend to pile on -- it offered a different meaning when coupled with the little girl, telling consumers that Morton Salt would flow freely even in damp weather. The first ad ran in October 1914 and the Morton Salt girl was born.
"We have no sales records from that time, so I can't say if that campaign boosted sales," Lauer said. "But it launched her iconic role recognized around the world today."
The test of time
Throughout the years, the Morton Salt Girl has undergone five redesigns: in 1921, 1933, 1941, 1956 and 1968.
Artists changed dress styles -- including adding the dress' yellow color in 1941 -- and hairstyles, going from curly to straight and back to curly in the era of Shirley Temple. But the basic design has remained the same.
"This year we made subtle updates to the 1968 version and débuted a new logo-mark," Lauer said. "They're subtle changes to the girl, as well as to the Morton Salt name."
The new label has "cleaner, more simplified line work to fit better with the new 'Morton Salt' word mark, which is in a modern 'friendlier' font," according to the company.
For the anniversary year, the company's iodized and plain salt packages will feature the new Morton logo with the words "100th Birthday, She's Still the One" on the package.
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