The IFI Irish Film Archive, supported by a grant from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Archiving Funding Scheme, has catalogued, digitised, restored and preserved a large collection of 35mm film television advertisements made in the 1960, ‘70s and ‘80s. These commercials were made for broadcast on Irish television by a number of prolific Irish advertising agencies including Wilson Hartnell, Birchall, Hunter and Arks, for a variety of corporations (both Irish and international).
The collection numbering nearly 8000 rolls of film, had been held in a number of damp warehouses for decades and as a result of poor storage conditions it suffered physical deterioration and contracted a mould infestation before it was transferred to the IFI Irish Film Archive in the mid-1990s. The Archive team has salvaged this material, through a combination of painstaking processes including frame by frame assessment, extensive physical and chemical conservation, followed by scanning and digital restoration. The collection has also been catalogued and preserved according to international best practice, thus safeguarding it for the future and making it widely accessible for the first time.
This project has resulted in the creation of a substantial Irish TV advertising archive that is a rich treasure trove of national memory and cultural artefacts. These films may be only seconds long, but taken together they provide a unique window into Irish society and consumer habits over a 3 decade period. They tell us much about the community they were made for, as well as the era they were made in; reflecting the social mores, standards, dress sense, attitudes to gender, race and so on of the Ireland for which they were created. They are fascinating on many levels and can be enjoyed from a nostalgic, historical, social or cultural perspective.