Hear more, do less

Now here’s something interesting, albeit thoroughly of its era in its attitude to racial difference.  (A riot of Colour and Music reads rather differently to us today with those images attached).

shop display card for Philips Broadcast of 1938

Nonetheless, here it is and so, like the Volkswagen and Empire Marketing Board posters, we shall consider it.

This was emailed to me by Kerry, who found it in her attic and – this is probably a relevant piece of information – lives in Guildford, which is home to the Philips head office in Britain.

What it isn’t, though, is a poster, as the rear view shows.

Philips broadcast 1938 back view

It’s a shop display card, although admittedly quite a big one.  Which means that I can’t seem to discover very much about the image or the design.

However, what I can find, which is in some ways even more interesting, is the actual thing it is advertising, the Philips Broadcast 1938.

This turns out to be a five minute animated film, by early and renowned animator George Pal (lots more info out there if you are interested).  Which, joy of joys, is available on YouTube, and turns out to be utterly wonderful.


What we have here – and it’s a useful reminder for those of us, like me, who tend to look only at posters – is a pre-war multi-media campaign.  The shop card is advertising a cinema short which in turn wants you to buy a radio.  (I do have a few questions as to why a colour film is a good way of persuading you to buy a radio, but I think we’ll just have to accept that things were different then.)

Posters, it’s worth remembering, didn’t exist in splendid isolation.  They lived alongside newspaper and magazine advertisements, as well as cinema ads, part of a whole advertising package.

Coincidentally, I discovered another example of this only last night.  I haven’t mentioned the MacFisheries graphics by Hans Schleger for a while, which I probably should have done as they are classic, brilliant and criminally unknown.

Hans Schleger salmon Macfisheries poster

But then, on a Pathé showreel, I found something really interesting – and yes, if you want to imagine me and Mr Crownfolio sitting in of a winter evening and watching 1950s cinema ads, feel free: it’s what happened.

It turns out that Pathé, as well as producing newsreels, also made advertisements themselves, and quite a few of them, up to two hundred a year (there’s a blog about it here).  A small sample were edited together to show to prospective advertisers, and you can take a look at this here (sadly it’s on the Pathé website, so I can’t embed it like a YouTube video).

In amongst them you will find a Macfisheries advert, using the Schleger graphic styleat the start and end, to persuade you to think about serving turkey for Easter as well as Christmas.

MacFisheries tv ad Schleger graphics

end of 1950s macfisheries ad

Here’s another of posters for reference (any excuse).

Macfisheries Hans Schleger turkey poster

The ad is at 11’30” in, but I heartily recommend watching the whole thing for added entertainment.  Dry Hair for men doesn’t seem to be a problem now, but they were very worried about it then.

  • With the slight advantage of the shop card. Glad you found this, I was going to call you over on that Twitter!

    Oh, and do look at the ads, there is a very short piece of what I think is Bruce Angrave paper sculpture on there – let me know what you think…

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