Sunday, 27 February 2011

Consumer Trust gained through Brand extension and Brand refreshment

The shelves and display cabinets of London’s gift and souvenir shops are groaning under the huge weight of products which have a limited life span of just a few weeks – namely mugs ,plates, thimbles, bells, fridge magnets etc. commemorating the forthcoming marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

What will have happened to these items in say 50 years?

Perhaps some may have been kept in households and later appeared on the 2060 version of BBC's "Antiques Road show", "Cash in the Attic" or "Flog it".

Maybe one or two might well end up in a museum . Stranger things happened!

One such repository in our time is London's Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising . This is a collection of over 12,000 items of consumer culture based on the remarkable collection of Robert Opie.
Click for Half Moon Bay – Robert Opie Gifts and Housewares

The Founding sponsors of the museum include Vodafone, McVities, Twinings, Kellogg's, Cadbury ,Diageo and PI Global.

The museum is located in a delightful West London cobbled mews on the Ladbroke grove/Notting hill borders.

Its exhibits stretch from Victorian/Edwardian era to the present day.

Because its collection is about communication to the consumer, visitors find themselves both acting as passive observer and but also constantly having their memory jolted by products, packaging and advertising that they remember from earlier parts of their life. As powerful a memory alerted when Pop and Rock records are played in the radio as"golden oldies",

Listening to fellow visitors reactions as they follow the trail of the museum, you realise that our ages can be identified through such responses both to our visual but also verbal and vocal memory.

Brand names, lettering and slogans erupt like conditioned reflexes from people as they pass the display cases crammed with items and on lookers re -speak the slogans of former times in their life.

You also become aware of how certain brands have had their life cycle extended. Some products and brands are no longer in circulation. Many items, fads and fashions come round again even if the medium is now more net based.

There are many souvenir products of previous royal weddings, coronations and national events whose producers at the time must have had to sell their wares in very short time like today's vendors.

You find yourself drawn to staple food & drink brands , sweets ( candies) , toiletries, and soft drinks and household cleaning products whose packaging has subtly changed over the years.

Some products you might not have been aware, have a longer history and were known to your great great grandparents .

Some brands have been lost or their parent companies have been acquired, merged along the way.

Certain products’ dominance has been diminished.

I am not a smoker myself , but I was astounded by the plethora of brands of cigarettes during the first half of twentieth century on display.

The graphics, fonts and designs however have subtly changed and been refreshed over the years.

For one or two products ranges, the displays were lined in a sequence for a brand and displayed from left to right from the ‘20s to the present day.

Notable were the lines of familiar products like Johnson Baby Powder Tins to plastic bottle and similarly for Scholl foot powder.

For fans of the comedian and singer Richard Digance whose song of nostalgia asked whatever happened to Spangles /- would find the answer in this collection has originals of tubes of Spangles sweets.

Then there are the product name changes with examples of the original products such as

Opal fruits to Starburst and

Marathon bars to Snickers bars.

Also there are brands that have disappeared from the shelves in the UK such as Smiths crisps, Golden Wonder Crisps.

Maybe a campaign for such products should be raised on social network as was achieved for Cadbury's (Kraft's?) Wispa Bar.

Photo of postcard from Robert Opie Colection

Not all the exhibits are of consumable products.

There are reminders of Government advertising posters from times of war plus exhibits of ration books and examples of rationing which are thought provoking.

As the current coalition government in Britain is dealing with the financial problems of the country certain cuts are being proposed to public services such as possible closure of certain libraries.

This has a certain irony when I read one of the posters from World War Two :-


There was a notice to retailers to be displayed in the shops .


Photo of postcard from Robert Opie Collection

Chocolate manufacture J.S. Fry even printed on their wrappers what we might describe now as a ‘buyer’s journey’ accompanied by photographs of a young boy in a series of grimaces until the problem was resolved.

The Ad ran

photo of post card from Robert Opie Collection

The breakfast cereal "Shredded Wheat" before its ownership by Nabisco was called WelGar Shredded wheat – presumably so named as the factory was in Welwyn Garden City.

I think production has moved now but the Factory site can still be seen from the Northern Main line railway line.

Cultural acceptability of some foods has changed. In a display of Heinz 57 varieties placed next to tin labelled ‘Mock turtle soup’ is tin of ‘ Real turtle soup’ that might cause a bit of a fuss today from certain environmental lobbies.

Lost to us now are the delights of Coop Spec washing powder.

There is a section devoted to the evolution of packaging such as cartons, Cans/Tins, right through to today’s recyclable and sustainable methods.

The trail of the exhibition finished in a small tea room/shop where a loop of TV ads from the past is run.

Photo of post card from Robert Opie Collection

Brands and their accompanying slogans on TV attract different generations.

The jingles that caught me included :-

“ Boom Boom Boom Boom .. Esso Blue”

“You can be sure of Shell”

“For mash get smash” for those of a certain generation who remember the
Puppet Martians!

“Any time, any place any where .. that’s Martini. The Right One"

Homepride's “ Grade grains make finer flour”

Go and visit this museum it's terrific!

Click for Museum of Brands
Museum of Brands
2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Road,
Notting Hill, London, W11 2AR


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