I mosied down to the Museum of Brands a couple of days ago. What Valeria Maltoni says in her blog Conversation Agent is very true – brand stories define us. At the museum, I essentially took a trip down memory lane. Seeing so many brands, many of which are non-existent now, made me remember specific instances from my childhood, and it was one of those feel-good moments, if you know what I mean. That’s the power of brands, silly and commercial as it sounds. Walking through the display of brands from the Victorian period till now was very interesting. The events of the times, such as the two World Wars, had a significant impact on product advertising during those periods, as you can see from the ad for Pond’s below.
The colonization of India by Britain and its independence was also an event that was reflected in advertising. Camp Coffee, for example, changed its packaging from the 1930’s, which showed a liveried ‘native’ from India serving his white master coffee from a tray, through to the 1960’s and 1990’s when the native man, post-India’s independence in 1947, was promoted to sitting next to the white man as an equal. When the tray was removed from the packaging in 1957, apparently British traditionalists complained. Anyway, I thought it was a brilliant history lesson told through the story of a brand.
Recently, I was reading Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, and in it he mentions a brand that stuck in my memory because I hadn’t heard of it, since the period that Rushdie was writing about that I’m referring to was the 1940’s or so, and obviously I hadn’t been born then. The brand was Kolynos toothpaste. So when I saw it in a poster in the museum, it brought a smile to my face and everything fell in place. Bit of trivia: Kolynos was mentioned in J.D. Salinger’s classic Catcher in the Rye as well.
And the last brand that I have to mention is Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, a product I used to eat a lot of when I was younger, which was apparently called Sugar Ricicles at some point when they had good old Noddy as its poster-boy. Everyone remembers Noddy and Big Ears from their childhood, I’m sure! Interestingly, if you go to Rice Krispies’ website now, you won’t be surprised to note it’s tagline – Childhood is Calling.
So there you go – bits of my life and my interests, through the words of brands.