ICG Eastern Region Visit to The History of Advertising Trust (HAT)

01 Aug 2019 | ICG News & Announcements

Liz Montgomery and Arthur Fletcher

Anyone who loves the Smash Martians laugh or Aleksandr’s the meerkat’s wit is in for a real treat at The History of Advertising Trust (HAT) ( And luckily, on July 19, 2019, a small group of keen ICG members and friends and family were given an exclusive tour of HAT’s collection of TV and radio commercials, print advertising, ghost signs, and more. 

HAT was founded in 1976 to preserve the heritage of the advertising industry and to encourage and subsidise the study of UK advertising. Although originally based in London, the Trust moved to Norfolk in 1992. HAT carries out cataloguing and preservation work and offers a developing portfolio of on-line image galleries to enable access to all for study and research. The Trust is the archivist to many of the major governing organisations of UK brand communications, a few commercial clients, and a selection of current and past advertising agencies and clubs.

In addition to its archiving work, HAT manages projects and initiatives that help the community interact and benefit from the collections. For example Inspiring Minds ( was a chance for individuals from the advertising industry to share unique memories of the work behind some of the most famous UK adverts. The Memory Wall (, which aims to rekindle memories for patients living with dementia at the James Pagett University Hospital in Norfolk, is another.

The ICG outing started with an amazing lunch at a nearby café. On arriving at HAT itself, we were greeted by Alistair, the knowledgeable Archive Collections manager. The visit began with a talk about the history and structure of HAT, which was followed by a fun video montage of iconic adverts from the 1950’s through to recent times. Then Alistair took us on a tour of the reading rooms, library, and archives. Highlights of the tour included beautiful lithographs, Butlins memorabilia, notes and letters relating to famous accounts and adverts, plus much more.

During the visit we discussed the role of consumer research in advertising, the changes over time which mirror social trends, and the difficulties of archiving materials and information that has been recorded on a diverse range of media. The visit was a wonderful way to keep in mind the larger context of research within the world of brands, media, and culture. Insightful advertising has always been an essential element of successful ventures and will remain so in the future: researchers need to engage. As Mark Twain astutely once said: “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

Carol Raithatha.