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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

The Many Forms of Advertising

Every day we encounter advertising in one form or another, whether through television, radio, newspapers, post, the internet or advertising hoardings it forms part of our day to day lives. How much we are influenced by it is open to question. I find that there are certain adverts on television that I watch every time they are shown just because I like the music or they amuse me. Often I have no interest in the product and sometimes I fail to see the connection between the content of the advert and the featured product but this doesn't stop me repeatedly watching them. There are also adverts that I find intensely irritating but love them or hate them advertising is here to stay and can be a powerful way of getting a message across. I am proof that this message can remain with you for many years as I can still remember advertising jingles or phrases from 30 years ago for chocolate bars, carpet cleaner, tea, petrol, washing-up liquid, mashed potato etc.

Whilst checking books at Rose's I have started to notice adverts, mostly in annuals, and find them interesting and sometimes amusing. I came across one for soap recently which advises readers against having 'soap of inferior quality foisted upon them: something worse than worthless, calculated only to set up heat, redness, irritation, and general unsightliness of the skin'. Something you might want to bear in mind before making your next soap purchase! Another recent find proclaims 'Young teeth need exercise!' this is an advert for a form of rusk and goes on to say 'They provide mouth and gums with needful exercise. They assist the production of a strong, wide jaw, with ample room for teeth'. How do the children of today manage without them. Finally one for chocolates reads 'not only delicious, but also highly nutritious and sustaining, and exceedingly wholesome'. So next time I am looking for a healthy snack I know what I'll be reaching for.

We have a selection of books in stock in our advertising category, these are mostly in the form of booklets with soft covers produced by companies to advertise their products. I would have assumed, before reading in more detail, that these advertising booklets would be crammed full of references, pictures and product names but there seems to be quite a variance in the amount of advertising included. Some of the booklets only mention the product or company on the covers. The Chestnut who wouldn't be a Conker is one example, the company Brooke Bond is advertised on the inside of the covers but the story is about two conkers off the same tree, the big one wants to be a champion conker, the small one wants to grow into a tree, nice story but no mention of any Brooke Bond products.

Then there are others such as this Christmas Carols produced for Esso which has no mention of Esso inside, just a selection of traditional carols with music, but the covers have an Esso sign on the back and front plus the front has the name and address of an individual garage. So, I assume, the booklet was the same througout the country but personalised for each garage.

Others refer to the products or company during the text creating a story around the product. One example of this is Land-o-Nod advertising a range of children's nightwear. Two children are taken on a journey through the mill where the nightwear is made. Of course only good children are allowed on this magical trip and if they could answer 'yes' to questions like Did you clean your teeth? Did you put your toys away? Did you go to bed when asked? they could proceed. The children learn how the products are made from snow-white cotton, that they are fleecy, where the thread comes from and the range available. So, cleverly incorporated are behaviour, manners, politeness, product quality and range all in an enchanting little story featuring fairies, cute animals and small children.

The booklets can include, puzzles, rhymes, competitions and pictures to paint. I thought this OXO painting book was cleverly done, each page contains a colour illustration of clothes from a period of history i.e. The Anglo-Saxons, The Middle Ages, Regency etc. plus a larger version of the same illustration to be coloured in, a paragraph about the style of clothes worn and finally a little poem featuring OXO. I thought this one for the Early Victorian period was quite amusing:

To the Great Exhibition of 'Fifty-One'
Came wonders from everwhere under the sun.
OXO did not come till some years later
Or the Great Exhibition would have been greater.

Another form of advertising can be found in older books as many have a publication or book list after the text pages. This 'advert' can range from just a couple of pages to thirty plus pages and could feature other books by the same publisher, books by the same author or illustrator, books from the same series or any combination of the above. An ideal way for the publisher, at minimal extra cost, of promoting other books to someone who, because they have already bought/read one title, may be interested in others. Of course, these lists also contain useful information for collectors perhaps bringing to their attention lesser known titles or introducing them to new authors.

As children, my sister and I avidly collected the picture cards that use to be given away with Brook Bond tea, this may not be straight forward advertising but was certainly a way of selling more product. The first set, consisting of 20 cards, and featuring British Birds was issued in 1954. Some 45 years and 50 plus sets later the final set was called the Oracle and contained 19 cards, this was issued in 1999. I distinctly remember collecting the Prehistoric Animals and the Adventures and Explorers cards although I'm not sure if we ever managed to collect a full set. There was also an album available, which we had to send off for, to stick our picture cards in. Of course, as a mature adult, I wouldn't be drawn in to buying products for the free gifts now. Did I mention my collection of PG Tips monkeys acquired over the last few years...

Contributed by Lorna

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