The Phenomenon of Jubilee Ads
As part of our research for our temporary Jubilee exhibitions, we took a look at local newspapers and their coverage of jubilees over the years. Through this, we discovered a range of adverts that chart the development of “jubilee fever” in marketing, which manifested itself in some very unlikely products…
The first jubilee-themed advert we found was from Rosington & Sons of High Street, Pinner, and West Street, Harrow-on-the-Hill, listed in the Wealdstone Harrow and Wembley Observer in June 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. This advert simply yet effectively proclaims the wares on offer: “Flags! Flags!! Flags!!!” As a side note, we discovered that the repetition of the name of the goods for sale with increasing exclamation marks was a much-favoured advertising technique in the late nineteenth century to early twentieth century in Harrow newspapers.
(Photo: ‘FLAGS! FLAGS!! FLAGS!!!’ from 1897)
Only a couple of other Diamond Jubilee advertisements existed in Harrow newspapers: one for J. Wright Cooper from the High Street, Harrow-on-the-Hill (who interestingly enough supplied buns and cake for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations put on at Harrow Recreation Ground); and one for Rogers & Co., who could supply all the lights you needed for your jubilee celebrations.
(Photo: J. Wright Cooper advert from 1897)
At this point, in 1897, the products advertised under the banner of the jubilee are closely tied to the celebrations, with only the grocers Ryder & Waller using a jubilee motif with no actual connection to the goods for sale.
(Photo: Ryder & Waller advert, 1897)
With the coronation of George V in 1911, jubilee adverts are still fairly scarce and still focused on the celebration staples of flags and confectioneries. J. Wright Cooper makes a further appearance.
(Photo: J. Wright Cooper advert, 1911)
Reaching the 1935 Silver Jubilee of George V, we appear to enter the early stages of peak jubilee marketing fever. Products are no longer necessarily related to the celebrations themselves, but the anniversary is clearly now enough of a cultural touchstone to merit its inclusion in the advertisements of seemingly obscure products.
One of the simplest ways of shoehorning in the jubilee is to advertise “jubilee offers” – several businesses offer their bedroom furniture under this banner.
(Photo: George Porter & Co advert, 1935)
Royal celebrations have often featured a charitable component, and from what we can see from the souvenir programmes of George V’s Silver Jubilee, as well as council meeting minutes , the 1935 jubilee had a strong focus on events for and donations to the poor, aged, and sick. This is also evident in this advert for tokens that can be collected in boxes of tea to send to the local hospital or the King George’s Jubilee Trust, which aimed to commemorate the jubilee year by supporting the work of voluntary youth organisations.
(Photo: Brooke Bond tea advert, 1935)
Kodak, known for their long-standing history with Harrow by means of their local factory, also chooses to capitalise on the celebrations, with an advert that seems more custom-produced for the occasion than many that preceded it. The jubilee is clearly big business by this stage, with car sellers and housing companies also getting in on the action.
(Photo: Kodak advert, 1935)
On the other hand, one laundry in Harrow decides to do quite the opposite of capitalising on the jubilee, by closing the business for the festivities instead! This is publicised through this amusing little cartoon.
(Photo: Greenhill Laundry advert, 1935)
Jubilee fever continues along a similar vein into the 1977 Silver Jubilee. “Jubilee offers” still abound, as well as ads for products that have no right to be claiming the title of a jubilee purchase, such as this ad for aluminium windows and doors.
(Photo: Weatherman doors and windows advert, 1977
Finally, we see in 1977 an advert for the sort of product we come across far more with recent jubilees: the standard offering – but with a jubilee twist. One hair salon advertises a patriotic jubilee dye job, which one can only hope was limited time-only. Nowadays, many jubilee adverts seem to be for limited edition items, be it questionable jubilee sandwiches, or corgi interpretations of the well-known chocolate caterpillar cake.
(Photo: Jubilee Hair Control/Hair Fashions salon advert, 1977)
Whilst the copy may have changed over the years, there is certainly still an appetite amongst the British public for royal-themed tie-ins!
Funding provided by a grant from the National Archives For further reading on provisions for the 1935 Silver Jubilee, see: Silver Jubilee Committee Meeting Minutes, from 22nd May 1935 (https://moderngov.harrow.gov.uk/Data/Council/19350604/Minutes/010_silver%20jubilee%20committee_22%20may%201935.pdf#search=%22silver%20jubilee%20committee%22)