An Advertising Evolution

 How did the humble advert turn into a pillar of popular culture?

From cereal packets with cartoon characters, to coronation-themed confectionary tins, this display at Cobham Library from September 2019 - February 2020 will make you marvel at the marketing of by-gone eras.



Colman's; Kellogg's; Cadbury; and Oxo: these are some of the best known food brands with, more importantly, some of the best known adverts.  Food packaging evolved beyond measure during the course of the 20th Century. 

This display highlights the ways in which marketing underwent a revolution that completely changed the designs and advertisements for food and beverages. New packaging helped to make products stand out from those of their competitors and saw companies tapping into popular culture in order to make their brands more saleable.

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Cereals & Popular Culture

Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies were introduced in the 1950s and known in the UK as ‘Coco Pops’. A name change in the later 1960s in the UK resulted in the packaging seen at the top of the page. This box was bought for 10½p in Tesco in 1972 and features a picture of Sweep, who is a character from the children’s TV series The Sooty Show. Sweep is shown eating a bowl of the popular cereal on the front of the box. The panels on the side depict Sweep’s routine to stay healthy and explain why Coco Krispies are his favourite breakfast. The back of the box advertises free gifts which were available in every box of Coco Krispies. 

The Nabisco ‘Shredded Wheat’ cereal box also uses clever marketing, this time featuring well known comic book characters ‘Tom and Jerry’. A side panel of the box says that there are three comics to collect in Shredded Wheat boxes.





Colman's English Mustard illustrated short-story: 'The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow'
Colman's English Mustard illustrated short-story


The Story of Colman's Mustard

 Colman’s English Mustard packaging has changed very little for decades. The iconic yellow packaging with red text dates from 1866.  This tiny booklet titled ‘The Pot of Gold at the End of The Rainbow’ cleverly advertises Colman’s products. It is an illustrated short-story about a princess from ‘Folmania’, who must restore peace to her country by recovering the Colman’s products that were lost after a spell was cast. The back of the booklet advertises Colman’s products.







Celebrating National Events

 Cadbury had been producing cocoa and drinking chocolate since 1824 in Birmingham, and by the 1860s, Cadbury was selling expensive boxes of luxury chocolates. The Cadbury brand was revolutionised by the launch of Dairy Milk in 1905 and Bourneville in 1908. New marketing campaigns were started in the early twentieth century that helped to sell Cadbury’s products. The tin above is from 1953, and shows how the brand used Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation to sell a collectable product that had more value to the consumer, which the company could make more money from.





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From Troops to Tabletop: Bovril Beef & Oxo Cubes

 The topic of liquid meat is not the most appetising when it comes to food, but specially marketed meat products have gained popularity with consumers over the last two centuries.  Bovril was first introduced to the market in 1886. This ‘fluid beef’ drink had been used to feed Napoleon’s army in 1871, and it quickly became popular in Britain as a drink that could provide strength. The bottle displayed on the right here shows the old style of packaging; the modern bottles are similar in shape to Marmite jars.
Oxo was created in 1840 when a German chemist invented meat extract. It was originally sold in bottles, like the one on the left. It was not until 1910 that the packaging was changed and Oxo was marketed in cubes to make it more accessible to the masses.



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Intrigued about branding and adverts of old?  Come and see the exhibition at Cobham Library for an insight into our colourful assortment of sweet tins, beer bottles, cream crackers, China tea, and much, much more!