DIARY: Basil Johnson leaves more than interesting archives behind him

Campaign was sad to hear of the death of Basil Johnson - reckoned to be the oldest surviving ex-IPA staffer at the age of 94 - but tickled at some of the material that was in his keeping during almost two decades at Belgrave Square.

Campaign was sad to hear of the death of Basil Johnson - reckoned

to be the oldest surviving ex-IPA staffer at the age of 94 - but tickled

at some of the material that was in his keeping during almost two

decades at Belgrave Square.



Basil worked as the IPA’s archivist, organising its files and historical

documents. After his retirement, lack of space and the arrival of new

technology nec-essitated some drastic pruning.



The job fell to Philip Circus, then the IPA’s legal affairs director,

and his clear-out unearthed some corking throwbacks to a time when

advertising was an altogether more gentlemanly affair.



One fine example dates from the days when Britain was losing its empire

but still saw itself as the paternal colonial power.



One IPA director, commenting on plans for a new advertising code for

Thailand, showed touching concern for the regulators about to don pith

helmets for a trip up-country to enforce it. ’I do think it appropriate

that whenever an official is executing his duty, he should be provided

with lavatory accommodation!’ Quite right.



And what about the bowel-churning guide to advertising in Ceylon in

1960, which lists the population’s chief leisure interests as gossiping

and fighting with neighbours?



Even that pales into insig-nificance beside the strange sado-masochistic

tendencies of an agency in Warsaw that not only offered the services of

boring old planners and creatives but also ’gagmen’. Pardon?



But nothing prepared Circus for his most bizarre find. A pair of

trousers.



They were filed under ’sensitive product categories’.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content