Mr. George Whipple (also known as George the Grocer) is a fictional supermarket manager featured in television commercials, radio, and print advertisements that ran in the United States and Canada from 1964 to 1985 for Charmin toilet paper. Typically, Whipple scolds customers who "squeeze the Charmin," while hypocritically entertaining such actions himself when he thinks no one will notice. The character and catchphrase were created by John Chervokas of the agency Benton & Bowles. Prominent ad-man Sid Lerner also worked on the campaign.
The first commercial featuring Mr. Whipple set the tone of the advertising campaign, which Advertising Age designated as among the top 100 campaigns of the 20th century. Whipple is seen looking around the corner of the supermarket (either he is at the checkout or stocking shelves) at a female customer, commenting that first she is squeezing the tomatoes, then the melons, and then (in a classic comic "triple") when she arrives at the Charmin, he cannot contain himself and approaches her, uttering his famous plea "Please don't squeeze the Charmin!"
"Mr. Whipple" was played by Dick Wilson (born Riccardo DiGuglielmo in 1916 in England), a character actor who also appeared in many TV sitcoms during the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1964 and 1985, Wilson appeared as Whipple in more than 500 commercials for Charmin.
In some commercials, Mr. Whipple was accompanied by a stock boy named Jimmy, played by Adam Savage, known decades later for the television series MythBusters. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a competing grocer named Mr. Hoffmeier appeared in Charmin commercials as well. However, Hoffmeier encouraged his customers to squeeze the Charmin, and he scolded Whipple on his hypocrisy. By the late 1980s, Mr. Whipple was encouraging customers who weren't buying Charmin to squeeze it. One commercial featured him using a fishing rod to place the product in a skeptic's shopping cart.
In 1999, after a 14-year hiatus, Mr. Whipple returned in various Charmin commercials involving why he could not retire, with the answer being that he had to inform the public about Charmin. A later series of commercials featured him with the new slogan, "Is Mr. Whipple watching?" In 2000, Procter & Gamble presented Wilson with a lifetime achievement award as a subsequent advertising campaign began for Charmin that features Charmin Bears, a family of anthropomorphized cartoon bears.
Wilson died of natural causes on November 19, 2007, at the age of 91, in California. Soon after, on November 28, 2007, a new Charmin commercial debuted on television, featuring old clips and paying tribute to Dick Wilson and Mr. Whipple. The tribute indicated that the deceased actor will be "In Our Hearts Forever."
According to a 1970s survey, Mr. Whipple topped then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter as the most recognizable face in North America. According to Charmin makers Procter & Gamble, a 1978 survey found that Mr. Whipple was the third best-known American, behind former President Richard Nixon and evangelist Billy Graham.
The country song "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon," which was a Top 10 hit for Charlie Walker in 1967, was inspired by the advertising campaign for Charmin.
Adam Savage, who portrayed Whipple's stockboy Jimmy in several commercials, paid tribute to Whipple on Savage's show MythBusters, showing a vintage Charmin commercial which features Savage. On an episode of the final season of MythBusters, Savage also dressed in a stockboy uniform, a likely nod to Savage's work with Charmin commercials.
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