This film is part of Free

The Man Who Stayed to Dinner (Rinso Advert)

Explorers, 'cannibals' and minstrels sell soap powder.

Advert 1943 2 mins


An argument between a 'cannibal' and his wife over the use of a cooking pot provides a narrative to promote the virtues of Rinso soap powder. The demeaning use of black actors and the African setting were intended to underline the 'civilising' benefits of a transition from boil-washing to pre-soaking in Rinso.

Racist notions of the undesirability and 'impurity' of black skin had been used to market cleaning products to white buyers since the early 19th century. Brands including Pears, Sunlight, Vinolia and Fairy commonly featured black children and adults being 'washed white'. An early silent short from 1896 titled A Hard Wash shows a black mother engaged in the same exercise with her child. As part of its mass-marketing strategy, The Man who stayed to Dinner conflates the language and behaviours of blackface minstrelsy with British colonial stereotypes of African people. A closer listen reveals the British accent of the 'cannibal's wife'.