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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)

Bohemians Both!

Bohemians Both!

I have more than once taken, or been one of a small party which has taken, advertising schemes to great firms. And the moment has come—could indeed be no longer delayed, when the work has been done and the samples which have been prepared have been extracted from the portfolio and laid before the assembled board. And at the moment of slight chill and apprehension, when the chairman has distributed all the drawings, finished or rough, round the table, and some are not looking at the drawings but reading the copy—I say that in this highly non-committal atmosphere, I have sometimes seen at the other side of the table a gentleman who seems to be warmly recommending the exhibit he has in hand to the director who sits next to him. And several times I have discovered that this humane and sympathetic man is the Sales Manager of the firm. Sometimes he is also the Advertisement Manager. Sometimes he is not the Advertisement Manager but an authority upon the subject of the Advertisement Manager. And then afterwards going across the factory yard—on the way to lunch—he and I have gravitated together and we have made friends. Bohemians, both of us! We have come into this affair from the side of the humanities. That is our angle of approach. We are not concerned with oil and shafting—nor with time-keeping—nor yet with overheads, but only with the human appeal which is to shift these excellent goods from their present place to their proper place, perhaps on the pantry shelf of the consumer.

And, since I have imagined us in the factory yard, I would say in conclusion—one word about the effect of advertising upon the firm which practises it. Briefly it is this. A firm's advertising tends to force upon the firm itself an ideal up to which it must live. We are always being told just now that England is going down, and how this, that, or the other institution is not what it was. Of some things the saying is true. But it is not, I think, true of British business. The corner in which it finds page 49 itself is a tight one, but it faces its trials with an improved mind and an improved heart.

We know something about the nineteenth century Victorian business man. We know for one thing that he did not advertise. We are expected to believe that he would have scorned to advertise. And yet we know from history that he was not a wholly satisfactory type. However just and righteous he may have been in his private life, in office hours he was rather too prone to think that “business was business.” He was not wholly insensible to the useful resemblance there is between sand and sugar; he had been compelled by rigorous law to make his premises decent and safe; his work people were not a very happy gang.