Die palmyrenische Königin Zenobia als Werbeikone für Seife





Zenobia, Classical reception, Advertising (Cosmetics, USA, ca. 1900), Orientalism, Racist subtext, Dido, Semiramis, Scheherazade, Cleopatra


This article analyses, as an example of the advertising of cosmetic products, a campaign launched by the US-American company “Johnson Soap” for their product, the facial soap “Palmolive”. Examining its ads of 1911 in which certain ancient exempla are employed, it becomes clear that the Palmyrene queen Zenobia and with her the semi-historical Semiramis and the more mythical Dido are aligned to the “1001 Nights” character Scheherazade. Since they are jointly labelled as “historically famous oriental queens” and because of the reference to Zenobia’s white skin, they fall into the fantasy of fair-skinned harem women and evoke thoughts of all the pleasures and comforts of the luxurious Orient. To the modern female customer of 1900 (well steeped in the knowledge of those ancient characters) Zenobia and the other exempla should serve as celebrities worth emulating. Above all they are deemed to be beautiful, and experts in cosmetics which would guarantee the effect of the product they are standing for. A finding that proves to be valid even in an advertising concept of today for the Syrian-German “Zhenobya-soap”.