Dec 6 2011: Pontin’s Advertising (from Holiday Souvenir Programme of Broadreeds, Selsey-on-Sea, 1967)

Following yesterday’s gallery of calendar headings and photographs showing a few of the delights of a Pontin’s holiday in 1967, as included in a souvenir brochure published for residents at the company’s Selsey-on-Sea camp, here we have what is, I suspect, the real reason for the brochure’s publication – a host of advertising by companies no doubt very aware that getting their prodiucts into Fred Pontin’s holiday camps meant a full week of captive sales to his clientele. So there are plenty of beers here – from Watney’s Red Barrel and Skol to Harp Lager and Guinness – but these rub shoulders with ice-cream, tobacco, cola, butter, crisps, make-up and Shredded Wheat, all vying for the captive attention of Pontin’s guests. Much here is still in circulation, but plenty more is long-obsolete, and manages to conjure a context with very different ideas about adult sophistication to those of our own age. Yet while noting the attitudes and assumptions exposed by these, it’s worth remembering that it’s always much easier to perceive biases and ludicrous notions in material that is no longer current, far harder to spot it in the avalanche of visual and textual information that still swamps us and shapes our thinking to degrees we rarely acknowledge, or even notice. It’s an idea that’s surfaced in earlier posts on the subject of propaganda, to which advertising is intimately related. In fact, I’d suggest advertising in general should probably be regarded as a commercial sub-genre within the more obviously political variety of propaganda rather than something unrelated to it: perhaps we should think of advertising, PR and marketing as less accountable, largely privatised versions of their more transparent state-sponsored siblings?

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