Ordinarily, you wouldn't find an octogenarian on a list of the "World's Buzziest Brands" but there was Pine-Sol keeping company with Starbucks, Red Bull, Samsung and others on Adweek's annual list of the most talked about products of 2012. But we weren't surprised—last year Pine-Sol was the only brand recommended by Consumer Reports in its tests of all-purpose cleaners. The iconic cleaner beat out two other liquids and 16 sprays, including some green newbies.
Pine-Sol raised its buzz-worthiness 12 percent by pranking men in a series of television and online ads that went viral, according to Adweek. "Pine-Sol invited 50 men to test its products and were caught by surprise when the 'Pine-Sol lady' (played by actress Diane Amos) burst in, delivering her 'Power of Pine-Sol clean' line to the shrieks of the surprised guys," the magazine reported.
Created in 1929 by a chemist who lived near a pine forest in Mississippi, Pine-Sol wasn't exactly an overnight sensation. In fact, it took 17 years before it was sold outside the state. In 1990, the company was acquired by Clorox, which introduced new scents. But we tested Pine-Sol Original, which at only nine cents an ounce, was one of the least expensive cleaners in our tests, therefore earning it a CR Best Buy.
In our labs we test all-purpose cleaners against four soil types—grease, grape juice, ketchup and mustard that we spread on glass, ceramic and metal tiles. Next is the soap scum test and another that measures whether the cleaners leave streaks behind. Pine-Sol Original was very good at removing stains and soap scum and was the only cleaner to ace the non-streaking test.
At the end of the Pine-Sol ads, the pranked and the prankster team up to promote Pine-Sol—and leave behind a very clean room.
—Mary H.J. Farrell