Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Ghosts of advertising

stoke newington; mobile advertising; advertising posters; london accommodation
I have been fascinated by ghost advertising for ages and the book I'm reading about the street furniture of London has made me look at those faded painted adverts on the side of buildings in a whole new way. Fortunately many people love these faded hand-painted signs and in 2009/10 The History of Advertising Trust catalogued over 800 examples of advertisements painted directly onto our buildings.

Glimpses of advertisements that have faded into the fabric of our city warm my heart, they may be weathered and hard to read but they are here reminding us that we are not forever, we will fade and wither and the buildings, mostly, will outlive us all.  

On a walk on Saturday afternoon we passed loads of ghost signs in Stoke Newington and these are the most obvious ones. I know there are many more! 

Crane House decorator, Stoke Newington
Brown bread, Stoke Newington
I'm wondering how long it will be before we go full circle and ditch billboards all together and return to painting directly onto walls. Everything comes back round, I'm sure this craftsmanship will too. 

Although I have yet to see one on a Stoke Newington wall, Hovis ghost signs can also be found all over London. This was and still is a brand who knew about branding! They would pay for a baker to have a sign in return for wall space to promote their product. As a result there are many Hovis signs but, in all cases, sitting alongside them are the names of bakers (such as J.T. Turner and A.H. Fryer) that once used their flour. Developing this relationship with the bakers was not only a strong distribution strategy but it also allowed the brand to lodge itself into the public consciousness as a localised business rather than an anonymous, corporate brand. How clever? And well before the advertising and branding books were written! I wonder if Simon Middleton (he of Build your brand in 30 days) has written about Hovis?

People needed matches, how else would you light your pipe?

John Hawkins and Sons, Stoke Newington
John Hawkins and Sons were based in Preston, they had 60 or so outlets across the country selling household linens and dresses. Mail order was popular too.

Of course you would take your pen to get repaired! Apparently there was a stationers on this site since the 1890's. The people who lived in my house would have gone to this shop to buy and repair their pens, this makes me very happy.

Walker Bros Fountain Pen Specialists, Stoke Newington
And this is just Stoke Newington. How many great signs are fading on the side of buildings? I need to go on a ghost advertising walk, if one knows of one please share, I'd love to go along and learn more about the faded backdrops of the city, before they disappear forever.

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