This film is part of Free

Wicked Witch (Rinso Advert)

Only a witch would be wicked enough to help Hitler on washing day, warns this fun wartime soap powder ad.

Advert 1942 2 mins


Other people's laundry habits are your business in this WWII advertisement for Rinso soap powder. Shades of Shakespeare give way to The Wizard of Oz, as a Dorothy-esque little girl forthrightly admonishes the wicked witch that "boiling's not the thing to do!" - if you want to beat Hitler, that is. Space and water heating accounted for three quarters of domestic fuel use, and so encouraging savings on the home front was vital to the war effort.

From January 1942, domestic coal was rationed to between 1700 and 2200 pounds per year, and the message that fuel must be saved for factories and military usage was repeatedly drummed home. A predecessor of the equally delightful Little Miss Muddlehead (also in BFI Player), this crafty cinema ad allies its marketing function to wartime savings propaganda with the help of a memorable rhyme. Such advertising took its place beside the multitude of communications, from striking government posters to radio broadcasts, already bombarding the British people with reminders to do their bit.