by Stan Moorcroft, Community Reporter

Museum Of BrandsHidden in a little cul-de-sac just off the Portobello Road in Notting Hill there sits a time machine. This takes the form of a museum, the Museum of Brands.

To enter it is to engage with a reality that is with us all the time but which we barely notice, the world of product brands. If music provides a soundtrack to our lives, then brands and advertising provide part of scenery. Ever since the mid years of the 19th Century, advertising has been a ubiquitous feature of daily life. Though its form and effectiveness has evolved over the years it still consists of the basic seduction of; ‘I’m what your life needs, I’m the best/most economic product, buying me is a statement about you.’

museum of brands2The adverts and brands we remember form part of our lives, aside from music and smells few things are guaranteed to poke the Proustian memory more than an old TV advert for Oxo cubes, or Quality Street. My own memories are of Arthur Askey going to work on an egg and Norman Vaughn declaring “Roses Grow on You”, as a rose sprung from his thumb. Of course for a younger generation the images will be different, the Honey Monster as opposed to The Milky Bar Kid, ‘You’ve been Tangoed’ rather than Leonard Rossiter pouring Cinzano down Joan Collins’s dress.

Of course the Museum also deals with the period long before TV, and indeed radio advertising, when newspapers provided the primary means to deliver the message. Though as early as the 1860’s billboards were becoming commonplace. Brand image, brand loyalty, appeals to snobbery and one-upmanship all date from this period. By the turn of the century our lives were already being shaped and defined by the commercial products we chose. The age of the ‘brand’ was born.

After leaving I felt like I had briefly travelled back to my childhood, as well as gaining an appreciation of the way in which brands and brand image impacts upon all our lives.

Fancy a trip down memory lane yourself? Then do visit the Museum and Brands, Advertising and Packaging at  2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2AR