I have received a link to a fascinating Flickr gallery via Twitter. London Underground workers recently uncovered advertising hoardings during work at Notting Hill Tube station. A collection of paste-up advertising posters had been left intact on the walls of a disused, closed-off lift passageway since 1959. I am fascinated by hidden, forgotten spaces and the decay of buildings left untouched, so much so that I drafted a pitch for a documentary about the subject a few years ago - but sadly nothing came of it. There is something endlessly absorbing for me about places which have been boarded off and excluded from the passing of time. So a wall of advertising last seen by the passing public a little over fifty years ago really caught my attention - and thanks to London Underground who took the time to photograph and share it.
These posters also got me thinking about how much advertising must have changed during the past five decades. Being a child of the 80’s most (if not all) of the advertising I have been exposed to has been regulated, substantiated, checked and double-checked against stringent guidelines. In today’s ad landscape the spurious claims of 1950s advertising simply wouldn’t see the light of day. However I don’t think regulation has hindered the creativity of more recent advertising, arguably many of the most memorable campaigns have been created during the past thirty years as the media has become ever increasingly sophisticated in its approach. That said, there is something rather absorbing about the simplicity of the 1959 paste-ups. They are undeniably stylish, hand-illustrated, and typeset by craftsmen to convey a message with artistic flair. Most of all they feel unhindered by the shackles of tag lines selected by focus groups and small-print legal provisos. For me it begged the question, do we get too caught up in developing radical creative approaches and extensive ‘brand stories’ when sometimes the ideal answer to the brief is simply to call a spade a spade?