History & Marketing Strategies of Colgate Brand

Company – Colgate
Founder – William Colgate

Colgate-Palmolive is an American multinational consumer product company which manufactures and markets personal care products including soaps, detergents and oral hygiene. The brand has a legacy of over 2 centuries and has successfully established a powerful worldwide presence. 

How It All Started 

Colgate-Palmolive was initially founded as a candle and soap making factory in 1806 by William Colgate. The factory was named as William Colgate and Company and was situated at the Dutch street of New York. However, he wasn’t able to expand the business in his lifetime and after his death, the company was restructured as Colgate and Company by his son. The company manufactured perfumed soaps and then came out with toothpaste a few years later. 

Toothpaste was initially sold in jars and it was in 1896 that the company began selling toothpaste in tubes. Meanwhile, a soap-manufacturing company named Palmolive was gradually developing in Milwaukee. Very soon they established themselves as the best-selling sap brand in the world. The Peet Brothers amalgamated with Palmolive to form Palmolive-Peet and in 1928, brought Colgate to form Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company and then later, the Colgate-Palmolive Company. 

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Company underwent several organizational reforms to form a modern company, the one that we see today. A natural toothpaste making company named Tom’s of Maine was acquired in 2006 by Colgate and today is a publicly listed company in India and the US. 


Success Story 

The Colgate-Palmolive Company is an admirable example of how a small soap and candle manufacturing business grew to eventually become one of the largest companies in the world. Colgate has continually worked towards making the world a better place by producing products which help people lead happier and healthier lives. 

The company gives back to the community that it serves in numerous ways. To grow responsibly and profitably in this fast-paced world, Colgate keeps on innovating new products. Each and every department of the company from marketing to IT, R&D to finance, procurement to marketing, HR and the supply chain must work hand-in-hand for the brand to deliver. 


Colgate-Palmolive is one of the oldest companies today. According to a 2015 survey conducted by Forbes, Colgate was identified as the best company to work in. According to Fortune Magazine, Colgate-Palmolive ranks high as the world’s most admired Companies. 


Colgate Ad Campaigns

Colgate devised digital marketing strategies which were aimed at helping consumers achieving oral education and perfect smiles. 

The Smile Show 

Colgate collaborated with social media influencers to create fun videos which people would be compelled to watch. This step was to attract millenials and the efforts fetched success for the brand. Philip Durocher, the Vice-President & General Manager of Colgate Palmolive NA Oral Care said that they had tried to connect with through TV and print but Youtube was hands-down the most logical platform. The brand collaborated with Youtubers Blair Fowler and Andrea Brooks for The Smile Show, a series of videos that promoted Colgate. 

The series successfully amassed 24 million views and led to 10.8% inflation in purchase consideration, an 1116% increase in brand interest and a 13% growth in brand awareness. Colgate connected the digital with the traditional in a meaningful way and that made this campaign a huge success. 

A Photoshop Disaster Turned Into an Exceptionally Good Ad Campaign 

Colgate released a few pictures where people had something stuck in their tooth which was clearly noticeable when they smiled. However, what people didn’t notice was the fact that in one of the pictures, there was an extra arm around the man while in the second picture, the woman had six fingers. 

But, why didn’t anyone notice them instantly?

This is because food stuck in your teeth is one of the first things that people notice about you when you speak or smile. This was the message that Colgate wanted to impart in this ad. The brand highlighted the importance of flossing and brushing every day for complete oral hygiene. 

Maha Kumbh Mela 

The Maha Kumbh Mela is a massive spiritual gathering which attracts hundreds and thousands of Hindu pilgrims from all over the country and world. Colgate understood that majority of the pilgrims in the area had lower literacy rate and thereby made use of voice-based communications to promote their products. By using location-based targeting, they created a virtual circle around the pilgrimage site in order to reach the target audience.

When pilgrims entered the circle, they got a call from a popular radio personality, playing pre-recorded message. The message asked the pilgrims to visit the booth set up by Colgate to get free samples and chance to win exciting prizes. The booth had a 300% increase in foot traffic as compared to the pre-promotion stage and the campaign attracted over 7 lakh visitors. 


Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Future Program 

The Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Future program is one of the most far-reaching and brilliantly devised advocacies in the world. The program offers free oral health education and free dental screenings. The program let kids learn ways in which they can keep their gums and teeth healthy. Colgate’s program in the US included several mobile dental vans which travel to over 50 states to offer education and free dental screening. The campaign observed unfathomable success and reached over 900 million children in more than 80 countries. 

Awards and Recognition 

Over the years, Colgate has received a number of awards. Mentioned below are a few awards and recognitions that it received in 2018. 

  • 2018 Working Mother – Best Company for Multi-Cultural Women 
  • 2018 Forbes – America’s most Reputable Companies 
  • 2018 DiversityInc – Top 50 Companies for Diversity 
  • 2018 Energy Star/U.S. EPA – Energy Star Partner of the year – Sustained Excellence Award 
  • 2018 Omnikal- America’s Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities 
  • 2018 Ethisphere – World’s most Ethical Companies
  • 2018 Barron’s – 100 Most Sustainable Companies 



Colgate has been able to thrive even today because they genuinely care about the community. The brand gives a lot of importance to social services as well as the upliftment of women right since the beginning. 

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