Colgate-Palmolive is celebrating its 100th anniversary in August and is marking the milestone by looking back at some of its greatest achievements over the past century.
Over the course of a century, Colgate-Palmolive has introduced more than 400 new products into the lives of Australians – spanning oral, personal, home, and pet care.
In 1928, Colgate-Palmolive produced its first locally made toothpaste in Australia and now, in 2021, one in two Australian households use a Colgate-Palmolive product1, with a product sold every second in Australia2.
The first Colgate-Palmolive factory opened its doors in Balmain, Sydney in 1923, and began manufacturing Palmolive Soap, quickly becoming an integral part of the suburb’s heritage and community. Operating for more than 70 years, the Balmain factory is now home to an apartment complex and park, aptly located on Colgate Avenue and Colgate Avenue Reserve.
In 1949, Lustre-Crème shampoo began production in the Balmain factory, with sales soaring after Hollywood stars Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe endorsed the product. And, in 1959, Sydney’s Balmain Hospital named its new extension ‘The Colgate-Palmolive Ward’ to recognise the company’s important contribution to the community.
Colgate-Palmolive’s local manufacturing presence expanded to Labrador on the Gold Coast, Queensland, in 1991, where it operated for 25 years until 2016. Today, its Villawood factory in New South Wales, which has been in operation since 1959, continues to produce household staples such as Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid and Ajax Cleaners.
The company’s innovation has continuously responded to the changing needs of Australians, with milestone moments including:
• In the 1920s, Colgate Ribbon Dental Cream launched in Australia. It went through many versions – from jars to collapsible tubes.
• In 1924, the iconic green packaged Palmolive Soap launched in Australia.
• In 1928, the Colgate-Palmolive factory in Balmain, Sydney produced its first toothpaste in Australia.
• In 1956, the Villawood Plant began producing the Ajax Scouring Cleaner, now a power brand in household cleaning.
• Colgate toothpaste reformulated with MFP Fluoride in the 1960s and was deemed the best possible protection against tooth decay by dentists.
• Australia became home to the first update of the famous Palmolive soap in 1973, shifting from its brick shape into the luxurious pillow shape that has proved so popular it has remained unchanged for nearly 50 years.
• In February 2013, the iconic Colgate Optic White brand launched with its revolutionary 1% hydrogen peroxide formula.
• The “Do You Bamboo?” campaign in 2019 helped launch the eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush.
• In 2021, the company introduced the first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube to Australia – made from high-density polyethylene that can be placed in kerbside plastic recycling bins
Colgate-Palmolive continues to give back through its Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program and community partnerships. For more than 20 years, the program has educated nearly nine million Australian kids on the importance of oral health. The success of this program led to the introduction of the complementary Clean Hands, Good Health program, which was established in 2010 to help teach children about good hand hygiene.
Colgate-Palmolive has also contributed $6 million to the Smith Family and re-homed 11 million dogs and cats through its partnership with animal shelters.
Jayne Moriarty, a current Colgate-Palmolive employee, joined the company in 1984 and has worked in both the original Balmain factory and in its city office on George Street, Sydney. Across the 37 years, Moriarty has worked across marketing, human resources, legal, CS&L and accounts.
She says the most significant change over the decades has been the technology used in both the office and at the factories, but its caring culture has remained the same.
“With all the changes over the last 27 years, it is Colgate’s passion for its employees that has not changed at all. I have been blessed to work with over 20 amazing leaders, each bringing their unique talents and personalities to make Colgate-Palmolive what it is today.”
General Manager of Colgate-Palmolive South Pacific, Simon Petersen, believes innovation goes beyond product development and the company’s longevity can be attributed to always listening to the customer.
“We are so honoured to have played a part in the lives of Australians for a century. It’s amazing to think that 50 per cent of Australians have a Colgate-Palmolive product in their home1.
“Throughout our 100-year history, it is our customers and our people that have been at the heart of our success. The meaning of health and wellbeing may have evolved, and the use of technology has changed dramatically in that time but what hasn’t changed is our values – to keep building a healthier future for all Australians and their pets,” said Petersen.
1 The household penetration of Palmolive Personal Care products in Australia is 57.9%. Source: IRI, MAT 20/06/21.
2 Based on the number of units sold of Colgate Oral Care products in Australia. Source: IRI, MAT 04/07/21.