Those of us old enough to have rung in the new millennium might remember what television advertising was like before the internet … or high-quality TV production, for that matter. Shows like It Was Alright in the… (insert preferred decade here) highlight just how far we’ve come since the days when sexism, racism and whatever other isms were fair game in mass media, and we should be grateful for the progress we’ve made (even if Trump et al are trying to set us back a few decades).
But the Irish television ad is another species altogether, and the advertising we were exposed to in the 1960s, 70s and 80s reflects a culture that’s almost difficult to believe existed not all that long ago.
Thankfully, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) has brought them back from the grave via a project undertaken by the IFI Irish Film Archive and made possible by the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) Archiving Funding Scheme.
The 200-plus ads, the culmination of an 18-month-long project to preserve and digitise Ireland’s TV advertising past, document the fascinating evolution of Irish consumer society and culture over three decades, and are free to view now on the IFI Player, ifiplayer.ie.
The collection, including nearly 8,000 rolls of film, had been held in a number of damp warehouses for decades and, as a result of poor storage conditions, suffered physical deterioration before it was transferred to the Irish Film Archive in the mid-1990s.
Over the last year and a half, the Irish Film Archive team, headed up by Kasandra O’Connell, have painstakingly salvaged the material and catalogued and preserved it, safeguarding these treasures for the future.
They’re each only seconds long but, taken together, provide a unique insight into Irish society and consumer habits of the mid-20th century, and tell us a lot about the community they were made for, reflecting an Ireland of very different social mores, standards, dress sense, and attitudes to gender and race than that of today. Fascinating on so many levels.
Have a gander, and a giggle or two…