RIP John Chervokas, "squeezable" Catholic

The man who came up with the idea to tell the world “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” has died.

Obituaries note that in addition to coining one of the most enduring advertising slogans ever, ad executive John Chervokas also wrote books on spirituality and prayer that included “Patient Prayers” and “Pinstripe Prayers, or How to Talk to God While Pursuing Mammon.”   He’ll receive a Catholic burial in Westchester County, New York later this week.

Details:

John Chervokas, a former town supervisor who invented the slogan “Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” during his career as an advertising executive, died on Saturday from a stroke after a five-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 74.

“He was just an incredibly creative guy, an incredibly patient man,” said Chervokas’ son, Jason, who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson. “There’s a famous story told by family members that when he was in grade school he had to use the word ‘pigment’. He said, ‘I knew what the horse said but I didn’t know what the pig meant.’”

Chervokas’ love of words and groan-inducing puns led him to a 40-year career in advertising. In 1964, while working as a junior copywriter at the advertising company Benton & Bowles, Chervokas was asked to come up with something to demonstrate softness for Proctor & Gamble’s toilet paper Charmin.

Chervokas conjured up an image of women squeezing fruit at the supermarket with a manager telling them to stop. That led to the famous “Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” ad campaign with the fictional supermarket manager Mr. Whipple who asks shoppers not to squeeze the Charmin.

And about his advertising career:

In 1964, Chervokas was a 28-year-old advertising writer for Benton & Bowles who was ordered to create a campaign for toilet tissue. He introduced a character named Mr. Whipple in what was to become one of the country’s most famous advertising campaigns.Advertising Age magazine ranked it the 51st best of the 20th century.

Chervokas took pride in his creation and fondly recalled Mr. Whipple in a 2000 interview, when he was serving as Ossining town supervisor.

“I smile visibly,” he said, whenever the subject came up.

Dick Wilson, the actor who portrayed Mr. Whipple, died in 2007 at age 91.

Said his son, Jason Chervokas, “He believed in the power of words. He was a great public speaker and a great sloganeer.”

Eternal rest grant until him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him …


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