By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
Brands are all around us, just an accepted part of our lives, intertwined with our daily decision making, but it wasn’t always the case. Seventy or eighty years ago if you made a good product, you generally would have a loyal local customer base who would buy it.
Then as the quality of products reached similar levels in the 1940s and '50s, and as communications and logistics developed, it become necessary for companies to find ways to promote their products to their customers and define the values that they held. Brands were born and in the intervening years the likes of Coca Cola, Kraft, Kodak and Proctor & Gamble spent fortunes on marketing the images they created in advertising and packaging.
This evolution of modern marketing is a subject that attracted the attention of a young man called Robert Opie and his fascination with brands and packaging that started as a hobby in the early 1960s now spans a collection of some 12,000 items housed in a permanent museum in London and open to the public on a daily basis. Robert Opie has turned his hobby into a career as a consumer historian and speaks as an authority on packaging as well as having written a number of books on the subject.
Robert Opie and his collection of brands at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in London
Today’s Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill, London is the current location for his collection. In 1975 his growing assortment of packaging and labels were the subject of an exhibition in London’s Victoria and Albert museum and encouraged by this success he opened a permanent museum in Gloucester. In 2005 the museum moved to its present location in West London and is now a tourist attraction in its own right.
A Cornucopia of Packaging, Labels, Advertising and Products
The building houses a cornucopia of packaging, labels, advertising and products showing the history of design and indeed for older visitors, memories of long forgotten old favourites. There are Oxo cubes dating back to the First World War, chocolates and sweets from the 1930s, a highlight of mine – a Raleigh “Chopper” bike from the 1970s, as well as all sorts of evocative memories of tastes, smells and logos from my youth, including my favourite Sherbet Fountains.
A famous brand, the 1970s model Raleigh Chopper
Part of the rationale of the museum is to act as an educational resource for schools and colleges providing course materials and support for courses in branding, marketing, design and intellectual property. Visits are arranged for students and tutors to get a practical “hands on” feel for the history. Another use of the museum’s exhibits is to provide a “reminiscence” pack for elderly people confined to a home. These include replica products from the 1930s and 40s which are loaned out to care homes and groups.
I think it will be a while before Nanographic Printing® technology appears in Robert Opie’s collection but given the impact that we expect Benny Landa’s technology to have in the packaging industry I would guess there will be quite a few examples in the years to come for the next generation of curators to include.
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