Why does Zest(r) soap rinse clean?

When you read the label on Zest soap, you discover that most the the seemingly incomprehensible ingredient names are soap. Sodium Tallowate? Soap. Sodium Palmate? Soap. Sodium Cocoate and/or Palm Kernate? Soap.

There is one plentiful ingredient ether sulfonate that is not soap. It is a surfactant, or surface active agent. These chemicals reduce the surface tension of water. Their molecules have both a hydrophilic end and a hydrophobic end. So one side of the molecule aligns with water, the other with oily dirt. They keep the dirt in suspension so it can be freely rinsed away.

In researching this, I encountered the themeline “Zestfully clean” first used in the 1980’s. This was written by the redoubtable James J. Jordan, Jr. who was a prime mover at BBDO for many years. He was Creative Director before being promoted to President of the agency. Incredibly talented, he coined memorable lines including “Wisk beats ring around the collar” and “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.” The fact that these themes are still remembered today testifies to their creative power.

I knew Mr. Jordan and I am sad to see that he passed away in 2004. He was a force of nature, and a passionate lover of great advertising. He will be missed.