Just as the chemical industry tries to manipulate human longevity, it also plays on human vanity and idleness. The post war era saw a boom in consumerisation, and with the end of rationing, new markets began to open up together with new methods of advertising.
In order to sell something and get people “hooked” so they come back for more it helps to give away some of it first- especially drugs.
There are many examples of Albright and Wilson advertisements which appeared in national and local media. The problem for this company is that they didn’t actually “make” anything that the new consumer could buy. A can of phosphoric acid or a tub of white phosphorus were never going to be product units in Boots the chemist.
Their customer was “industry” itself, be it in the industry of pesticides, food flavourings or detergents- their catchline “Chemicals for industry”. So what exactly were they hoping to achieve by “advertising” to someone whom they knew could never buy any of their products? It is difficult to fathom, but such is the self importance of this family company, which by the turn of the 1950’s was a private Limited company, it was perhaps to further their own sense of self importance, that would exist to the end of the century.
The typical AW ad of the period appears to jump up upon an unsuspecting “consumer” going about their everyday business, unaware of the importance of AW who made something that they were using. An omniscient narrator- an AW PR man talking and preaching to their surprised expression is almost like they are hearing the voice of God talking to them and literally it leaves them “quaking in the fear of God”. These ads would never appear today, there is something deeply creepy about them, like a chugger rapist in the high street selling the importance of the bits in your bags that they “anonomously” make.
The word “anonomously” recurrs frequently and one can literally imagine the idea of a man in a dirty little raincoat holding a bible in one hand and a picture of Quaker God Albright in the other , pushing the chemical prophet for all he is worth onto a disinterested shopper. “Albright things and wonderful, Lord Arthur made them all.” “Repent!”
They are also intensely patronising and typical of the age where women did the dishes and men mended the fuses.
And then there were those that were just downright creepy showing how our language has evolved.
Jumping on a little further in time, they then started to try to link in with their areas, as though they were the heart and soul of the community, when in fact they were its millstone. In the case of Oldbury, the 1960’s in particular saw many complaints about the smells eminating from the malathion plant- the smell of “tom cat urine” which drifted towards Birmingham if the wind was blowing in the right direction. This comment from a Parliamentary Debate tells the truth- a rarity from an MP who usually go out of their way to push the company message.
Examples of advertisements like the one below tried to exert influence by being “a landmark in Oldbury.”
This article represents the favourite themes still used by Rhodia and others today- links with being long established in their area and international in importance to the modern world.
Chemical company Dupont used to promise “better chemicals for better living” whilst today the word “chemical” has been dropped and replaced with “things” to almost make the consumer forget that they manufacture “things” with toxic values.
Monsanto sloganned “without chemicals, life itself would be impossile”, as though their later half of the Twentieth Century industry was unavoidable and there were no alternatives to the toxic products they made. Thus once their “drug” becomes established and people are “hooked” , people are dependent on them for life with no alternatives. But this is a myth, promoted by public relations spin, politicians and many sections of the press- all in the loop of protecting the health of their precious “economy”.
Today’s chemical industry advertising uses corporate logo’s in soft-focus campaigns which promote their wares as being “indispensible”, just as the allied life insurance companies ply people with the worries of modern living- many of them a direct cause of man made synthetic chemicals. The familiar elements are always there, cornfields, families (usually white) playing frizbee briskly in the breeze and children, always children running around- the next generation that the industry tries to poison with its lies through miseducation in schools.