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Water Softeners Marathon
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Calgon commercial 1970s

This commercial was for Calgon water softener.
A Caucasian woman with an American accent asks “Mr. Lee” (played by Calvin Jung), a laundry shop owner, how he gets her shirts so clean. He replies, with what appears to be a Chinese accent, “Ancient Chinese secret.”

The scene changes to Mrs. Lee, who is in an adjoining room. Mrs. Lee appears ethnically Chinese, but she speaks English with a thoroughly American accent, and explains to the audience that her husband’s “ancient Chinese secret” is that he uses Calgon water softener.
Mrs. Lee ultimately gives the secret away by sticking her head into the front room where Mr. Lee and the customer are standing, and shouts “We need more Calgon!” To which the customer replies “Ancient Chinese secret, huh?” while Mr. Lee accepts the exposure with good humor.

The actress playing Mrs. Lee, Anne Miyamoto, was actually Japanese-American.

Calgon water softener adverts in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in the rest of Europe promote the product solely on the basis of saving washing machines from breakdown rather than any benefits to the clothing in the wash, although the products on sale are identical to those in the United States. In Portugal, the Calgon advertisement jingle is the same popular one, for almost 30 years. In Italy Calgon is called Calfort.

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