Monday, 16 November 2009

The Oxo Factor

The Oxo stock cube has been around for more than a century. Over the years this modest product has been advertised with great persistence; stylistically conservative and wholesome in tone. Right now there’s a TV campaign entitled The Oxo Factor that seeks to capitalise on the success of ITV’s X Factor by inviting the public to make their commercials for them. Submissions have to follow a script and last 30 seconds. Prizes can be won and there’s on-line voting and fame of a sort for the winners. The entire dreary user-generated charade can be viewed on-line. (No link – find it yourself, if you must). The examples displayed here have been excavated from the subterranean layers of past publicity. They are typical in their emphasis on family values and show only a modest development in graphic presentation as the decades roll by. In the 1950s a certain jauntiness creeps into the picture (with the subversive notion of a man in the kitchen) but for the most part, sobriety rules. Press advertising was complemented by free recipe books and painting books for the nation’s children. W Heath Robinson supplied some light relief for the wartime consumer with a characteristic blueprint for expanding wartime production.

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