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Lifebuoy was introduced by Lever Brothers in 1895 in England as the second oldest soap brand, after the Ivory (soap) from Procter and Gamble. Although Lifebuoy is no longer produced in the US and UK, it is still being mass-produced by Unilever in Cyprus for the UK, EU, US and Brazil markets, as well as in Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean market. Unilever in Cyprus and Trinidad and Tobago is manufacturing the original Red Lifebuoy Soap with phenol. In other markets, including South and South East Asia, the global brand of Lifebuoy Soap has been updated to use red and other colours with ‘modern’ aromas. Lifebuoy soap is today imported to the UK by Jupiter Imports, owned by Richard Langham, former recording engineer at Abbey Road Studios.
When the Philadelphia Phillies played at the Baker Bowl during the 1920s, an outfield wall advertisement for Lifebuoy stated, "The Phillies use Lifebuoy". One night a vandal snuck in and added to the ad, "And they still stink". Variations of the joke were also employed by detractors of other losing teams.
The term "B.O.", short for "body odor", is often thought to have been invented by Lifebuoy for an advertising campaign. It was actually coined by a company that made deodorant for women called Odo-Ro-No in 1919, but Lifebuoy made the term famous. The Lifebuoy radio ad, parodied by several Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes cartoons, used a foghorn-type sound to create the "B.O." sound.
It is the bar-soap used in the 1983 movie A Christmas Story by the main character Ralphie and his family. After his parents wash his mouth out with Lifebuoy for using an obscene word, Ralphie dreams that he is blinded and his father cries out, "I told you not to use Lifebuoy!"
A children's parody of the Christmas carol "While shepherds watched their flocks by night" had the words: "While shepherds washed their socks by night, Seated round the tub, The angel of the Lord came down And Lifebuoy shone around" Heard in Bristol Grammar School, Britain, during the 1950s. Thought to be widespread in other British schools during the same period.