On brand: The ad­vert ar­chive re­sid­ing in Raveningham

TUCKED AWAY IN A SMALL VIL­LAGE A TRUST IS WORK­ING HARD TO PRE­SERVE A UNIQUE PART OF OUR SHOP­PING HIS­TORY

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - WORDS KATE BLINCOE PHO­TOS HIS­TORY OF ADVERTISING TRUST N For a trip down mem­ory lane, you can look at more ad­verts from the trust on­line here: hatads.org.uk Kate Blincoe writes on be­half of the His­tory of Advertising Trust and is an au­thor and writer fo

It’s felt like a tur­bu­lent year for Nor­folk busi­nesses. Fa­mously lo­cal com­pa­nies Robin­son’s and Col­man’s Mus­tard are shift­ing their pro­duc­tion else­where. Robin­son’s, one of Britvic’s brands has been based in Nor­wich for more than 90 years, while the iconic Nor­folk Col­man’s Mus­tard, now a Unilever brand, has been made in the city for more than two cen­turies.

Mean­while, other clo­sures are chang­ing the face of the high-street around the UK, with the loss of Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplin, and store clo­sures for Mother­care, Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser.

With com­pe­ti­tion from the on­line sec­tor and chang­ing con­sumer habits, it’s cer­tainly a tricky time to be a re­tailer. The Cen­tre for Re­tail Re­search has pre­dicted that nearly one in 20 stores in Nor­folk will close within four years.

Change is nat­u­ral in busi­ness, but this is fast-paced and has been dubbed a cri­sis in the re­tail sec­tor, or ‘hell on the high-street’. In the wake of job losses and fears

for the lo­cal econ­omy it is easy to over­look his­tory and her­itage – but what hap­pens to a brand’s his­tory when it closes?

When a com­pany shuts, merges or re­lo­cates, its legacy can van­ish with it. Orig­i­nal ad­vert proofs, arte­facts from decades ago and notes from cre­ative ses­sions can all end up in the skip, lost for­ever. Dig­i­tal records can be wiped at the touch of a but­ton.

It’s your his­tory that is gone. Ad­verts tell a story of our lives much more vividly than a his­tory book ever can. Just one glance at a Ho­vis ad or hear­ing a jin­gle from your youth can in­stantly trans­port you back to your child­hood home, aged seven with grazes on your knees. For me, it’s that catchy Vi­tal­ite song that rewinds time.

In Nor­folk, we have a team work­ing to look af­ter this very per­sonal and en­ter­tain­ing her­itage. Hid­den away in Raveningham, near Hales, is the His­tory of Advertising Trust (HAT), set up in 1976 to pre­serve and pro­tect the her­itage of UK advertising his­tory. It is a trea­sure trove of arte­facts, reels of film, ra­dio record­ings, mag­a­zine clip­pings, proofs of ad­verts and of course, a mas­sive dig­i­tal col­lec­tion.

The ar­chive houses col­lec­tions from Ho­vis Bak­ery, Vimto, KraftHeinz, ITV, Unilever, Col­man’s, Nor­wich Union and Start-rite, with many dat­ing back to the 1800s. HAT makes the ar­chive avail­able to stu­dents and re­searchers, and the ad­verts are even used in film and tele­vi­sion, such as in his­tor­i­cal dra­mas, to cre­ate an ac­cu­rate pe­riod feel.

Richard Pow­ell, di­rec­tor of HAT, ex­plains why ad­verts are so im­por­tant. “It’s sad and wor­ry­ing when busi­nesses close, but many of our great Bri­tish brands re­main im­por­tant and cher­ished by so­ci­ety. They give us mem­o­ries, cre­ative in­sight and his­tor­i­cal con­text as well as a real un­der­stand­ing of a par­tic­u­lar time and place.

“The trust cur­rently holds over three mil­lion items and we will be mak­ing sure that we work with busi­nesses into the fu­ture, whether they are thriv­ing, re­lo­cat­ing or un­for­tu­nately clos­ing, to en­sure that those beloved house­hold names are pro­tected and cel­e­brated.”

HAT has just saved the Toys ‘R’ Us col­lec­tion which in­cludes the large Ge­of­frey the Gi­raffe cos­tume, pho­to­graphs and sales cat­a­logues fea­tur­ing toys go­ing back to 1986, that many cus­tomers over the years will re­mem­ber fondly.

It’s re­as­sur­ing to know that though busi­nesses may die, this so­cial his­tory will live on. N

ABOVE (TOP): Cat­a­logues were saved, along with a Ge­of­frey the Gi­raffe cos­tume (Toys ‘R’ Us, 1986)ABOVE (BOT­TOM): Back when a mus­tard bath was a pop­u­lar way to re­vi­talise (Col­man’s, 1907)LEFT:Much loved lo­cal brands such as Robin­son’s has its ad­verts pro­tected by the His­tory of Advertising Trust (Robin­son’s, 1939)OP­PO­SITE: Many of us grew up wear­ing Star­trite – a re­minder of Nor­wich’s shoe mak­ing her­itage (Start-rite, 1976).

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