Here's a little something I picked up at the Rural Lorain County Water Authority booth at the Lorain County Fair a few weeks ago. It is a leak detection kit consisting of dye tablets used to find leaks in toilets – but that's not why I'm interested in it.
I'm interested in it because the cover of the kit features a classic advertising mascot, Willing Water or "Willie Water" for short. (Gee, the Lorain County Fair seems to be a good place to find ancient advertising mascots named Willie!)
Willing Water was created by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) in the late 1940s to increase awareness of the behind-the-scenes service that water utilities provided. He had a water droplet for a head that overshadowed his stick-figure body. He also had an upturned collar, similar to a butler's uniform, that gave him a formal look appropriate for a servant to the public.
Member utilities of the AWWA were given clip art of Willling Water to use in their advertising or as they pleased. They were even allowed to redraw him in other poses as long as they preserved his basic features and included the letters AWWA. In the 1960s, the AWWA even made available a three-dimensional Willing Water "head" that could be worn for publicity photos.
Next: Willing Water's watery fate