1994 – year of the poster

In 1994 I was doing a summer job in Brentford. It consisted of typing the numbers that some phone salesmen had sold to some people or something into a computer (interestingly enough we held all this information on pieces of ‘paper’ that were stored away (or filed) in metal cabinets. One day the computer bloke came in and claimed that we would soon be able to store these items in an ‘electronic’ form, ‘scanning’ them in like so many pictures. I still don’t know if he managed it, but he was a sharp kinda fellow, so I think there’s every chance his kooky wee plan came to fruition).

Anyway, it was as boring as you might imagine, and if it were not for the fact that my computer also had solitaire and the guy next to me, Michael (who became literally my first proper friend of Afro Carribbean descent – heady days), was incredibly funny I think I might have committed all kinds of suicide. Have I mentioned that I was saving up for a club 18-30 holiday to Ibiza? Good Lord, what was I thinking?

But the one thing I remember as a shining beacon of enjoyment from those dingy days was the fact that my bus route took me past some of the best posters in the history of advertising.

(For some reason my bastard blog host is refusing to let me put pictures up, so you’ll just have to look them up in the 1995 D&AD).

There was Nike’s ’66 was a great year for English football, Reg and Al larking about, Hello Boys, the Hello Girls Billy Connolly tribute next to it, The Economist, Polo and even good ones for movies such as The Mask.


Now you know what I’m about to say: why aren’t there posters of that quality these days? None of the above was particularly expensive, or particularly hard to put together (of course it was hard to get the art direction and copywriting right, but these were not major production jobs), so money and time should be no excuse, but Sunday Times Rich List aside, I really struggle to think of great recent British posters.

Any ideas why that might be?

(By the way, I know they’re called Out Of Home now – or even more ridiculously, OOH. I remember the first time I saw that on a brief and genuinely thought some sarky planner was taking the piss. ‘Review the OOH work on Wednesday’ – say it like John Inman and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, OOH makes zero sense as a name for this stuff. What about cinema ads? They’re Out Of Home (unless you live in a cinema), and what about radio ads that you listen to at work? Oh forget it.)