Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Promoting Promoting prosperity

Around about this time last year we were raving about a book called Selling the dream. We finished by asking, “Will there ever be a better book than this one on New Zealand’s unsung commercial designers? “ Well, yes there will be and it’s about to be published. This time round it's called Promoting prosperity and it's a companion piece to the earlier book.

Again the volume of material that has been uncovered is extraordinary. There are literally hundreds of colour illustrations of ads, posters and preliminary sketches set in the context of contemporaneous photographs. Much of this material has come from private collections (and in particular that of one of the book’s authors Peter Alsop) but there is also some terrific material from public collections. Among others are the Alexander Turnbull Library, Archives New Zealand and a place we hadn’t come across before, the Ferrymead Printing Society based in Christchurch. The result is the story of advertising New Zealand style (yes, it was pretty much pinched from overseas but with some intriguing twists and turns) giving a dynamic insight to what was important at the time and what's changed in our cultural environment.

The richness of imagery in Promoting prosperity does raise a question though. What do we have of our more recent history as related through commercial artwork? From our odd jobs with advertising agencies, we suspect not a great deal. The philosophy with what to do with most of the original artwork of advertising is trash it rather than stash it. A quick look at National Library and Te Papa collections of contemporary advertising seems to confirm that life stops in the 1970s or so. Let's hope there are energetic private collectors out there working with the ad agencies and keeping safe the kind of imagery that makes this book of such value.

In the meantime Promoting prosperity as more than enough to keep you amused, entertained and informed about the past world of the hidden persuaders