Selling: Detergent War

On television, the soap business is a bubbly world of pretty housewives showing off their blinding white wash, of jocular lady plumbers, and of children smearing their cherubic faces with soft, pure suds. In reality, the soap industry is one of the least jocular, least cherubic sectors of U.S. business. Last week on TV programs from Match Game to Monday Night at the Movies and on supermarket shelves across the U.S., the soapmakers were kicking and jabbing harder than ever in a battle over which will dominate the most lucrative spot in the market—the laundry room. Total soap and detergent...

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