31 Oct 2006 - Happy birthday, Glaxo!
From milk to medicines, Glaxo has been a recognised name for 100 years.
The name LactoSmithKline does not have quite the same ring to it, does it? Yet if the trade marks registrar in London had not rejected the name Lacto as too similar to other names, then today’s company may well have been called just that.
The name Lacto was derived from the Latin word for milk, so the company’s founding fathers decided to try galactin, the Greek word for milk. Therefore, after some word games, the name Glaxo was registered as a trade mark on 27 October 1906.
So why this obsession with milk? Glaxo was the UK name for a dried milk product imported from the company’s business in dairy-rich New Zealand, where it was known as Defiance.
The Glaxo product was an outstanding success and eventually, the trade mark was chosen as the company name.
For its time, the marketing of Glaxo dried milk was pioneering and included front-page newspaper advertisements and the publication of the long-running series of ‘The Glaxo Baby Book’ which offered advice to mothers and about infant health and feeding until the early 1970s.
The famous slogan ‘builds bonnie babies’ was the idea of an employee making tins for the company.
During the 1920s, Glaxo took its first steps into pharmaceuticals with a vitamin D preparation called Ostelin Liquid and, importantly, during the Second World War, the company started to manufacture penicillin.
Legacy of family names
While GSK’s major legacy companies of the past 150 years took their names from their founding families – Smith, Kline, Beecham, Burroughs, Wellcome, French, and Allen and Hanburys – Glaxo is the only name to have been specially created.