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Basil worked as the IPA’s archivist, organising its files and historical
documents.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
They were filed under ’sensitive product categories’.