THE ZING OF IRISH SPRING OR THE LOVE OF GENTLE DOVE?
The simple bar soap of yesterday has been washed down the drain. Today there are as many varieties of soap as there are types of personalities. Irish Spring and Dove are two of the many examples that are on the "opposite ends of the shelf". They differ not only by their sensory and physical characteristics, but also by the people who use them and how they are sold.
Irish Spring and Dove contrast in their smell, texture and physical appearance. Irish Spring has a strong smell. It dominates the air, and the scent of a fresh bar will shoot like an arrow through the rest of the house. Entering the bathroom, one is likely to crinkle his nose in defense as the smell blasts like a rocket into the sensors of the nares. The powerful smell gives you a feeling of energy and life. Its effect can be compared to the "wide awake" feeling one gets when sniffing smelling salts. As the name implies, the scent of Irish Spring reminds us of a vital, budding, fresh spring day in Ireland. Dove, on the other hand, has a gentle smell. The aroma hovers like a halo above the bar and, compared to the penetrating zap of Irish Spring, its featherlight whiffs of scent float peacefully through the air. This soap also reminds us of a delicate floral bouquet; washing with it can make you feel as dreamy as Dorothy did in the field of poppies. The suds of Irish Spring feel foamy and frothy like the whitecaps on a wave while the lather of Dove feels full and creamy like the breast of a lovebird. In appearance, Irish Spring is a sea green colour with splashes of white darting across it. The top is lean and curved like the torso of an athlete, the edges are squared, and the words "IRISH SPRING" are branded across its back in bold letters. In contrast, the pure white tone of Dove is not blemished by any other colour. The bar is oval shaped and is curved like the arch of a woman's back. Dove is inscribed on the upper side and the symbol of a dove is etched in for detail.
The characteristic of strength in Irish Spring entices men, while the characteristic of gentleness in Dove attracts women. The stereotypical man wants to feel definite, vital and lively. The vigour and manliness that this soap breeds will help him feel this way. This deodorant soap will give him the "kick" he needs to play a good game of rugby, the determination he needs to "sweat" out a business deal, and the confidence he needs to ask her to marry him! In contrast to this, the "traditional" woman wants to feel flowing, feminine, and fertile. Dove gives birth to fantasies filled with fields of flowers, fearless knights, and fat smiling babies. In another way, these two soaps differ because it is more common for a woman to choose Irish Spring than for a man to choose Dove. "Frankly yes, but I like it too" is a statement that makes it easy to imagine a headstrong, active young woman sudsing up with Irish Spring whereas, even in these days of equality, it is difficult to picture a man willingly soaping up with Dove unless his wife does the shopping or he is showering at his mother's house. Lastly, these soaps differ in how they are used. A man would grab Irish Spring and, raising each arm above his head, he would scrub vigorously with a sanding-like motion. Along with this you might hear him sing like a baritone or pour forth a full throated "Laaaaa" like Pavarotti. In contrast, a woman using Dove would cream up the soap; relaxing in the tub she would slowly sooth the emollient over her shoulders. Humming softly to oneself is usually the only effect that Dove has on one's vocal cords.
Studying their boxes, their price differences, and their commercials on T.V., one notices how varied Dove and Irish Spring are in their advertising features. Irish Spring is sold in a black box with a splash of colour like a rainbow arched across it. Specifically the rainbow colours are red, orange, yellow, and green; the first three remind us of spring sunshine, and the last one of a freshly mowed lawn. Blue, indigo, and violet, the "winter" colours, are omitted from the box. "Irish Spring" is printed in square letters slanted to the right indicating zesty movement and speed; the letters dominate the middle of the box in their bold green colour. The words "rich lather", "fresh", and "clean" are printed for your information; and "Manly Deodorant Soap" is the description you are given. These individual black boxes are usually sold in groups of two or three with an outer packaging holding them together. The outer packaging is crackly, crinkly plastic that is clear on the sides, and black on the front. In contrast, Dove is sold in white boxes with no lettering on them. Like Irish Spring, two or three boxes are sold together; however, all the writing is on the outer packaging. Rather than plastic, the packaging is made of shiny paper which is half baby blue and half white for the white bar, and half pink and half white for the rose coloured bar. A gold curvy ribbon like the sash of a little girl's dress sweeps across the box dividing the white side and the coloured side. "Dove" is inscribed in graceful, white calligraphy lettering and a deep blue or pink accent behind gives it depth. Suspended above the name is a gold dove enhanced with a silver and white outline. We are told that this soap is one quarter moisturizing cream, and the words "beauty bar" let us know what we are buying. There is a thirty cent price difference between Dove and Irish Spring; Irish Spring has the more "down to earth" price of $1.19, and Dove has the loftier price of $1.49. On T.V., the Irish Spring commercials differ from the Dove commercials in a number of ways. A man is the dominant figure in the Irish Spring commercial, whereas a woman is the main character in Dove; the man is showering in a rustic, wooden outdoor shower, while the woman, who is also outdoors, is bathing in a porcelain bathtub supported on gold lion's feet. Finally the wooden shower is planted in the surroundings of a spring garden with sprouting trees in the background, while the porcelain tub is placed on a cultured lawn and has a white dove hovering above it.