Saturday, October 23, 2010

See How The Won - a 1935 multimedia Boots campaign

Durium started its activities in Europe early 1932 in the London suburb of Slough with a factory that produced a regular series of commercial Hits, in fact a copy of the well known Hit of the Weeks series that had been released in a weekly schedule in the US from early 1930 up to the summer of 1932. The US Durium branch was broken and also the European Durium Product (GB) Ltd. lasted only a few years. When Durium had started its commercial catalogue in England of weekly hits ( the durium EN-series) they also launched an advertisement division that could made small cardboard promo records cheap and in large quantities. In 1934 Durium Product (GB) Ltd. was broken too, but the advertisement division started up again as Sound Distributors. A kind of intermission firm entitled Dubrico handled the current affairs for a few months and became known for the Talkie Cigarette Cards. These small advertisement records show the spirit of the age. One of those small records was released as a promo record for Boot The Chemist and has his own story to tell.
(Thanks to Judith Wright - Boots Archive)
......... : Unknown orchestra. Unknown vocal 4 London,
Recorded 1935. Released ca. October 1935
"SEE HOW THEY WON"
Matrices: S.D. 76. Take numers B C G H J

It is a small 4-inch ( = 10 cm) round cardboard record which has on its label the text: "SEE HOW THEY WON" Presented by BOOTS THE CHEMISTS.

On the record a song entitled See How They Won played by an unknown orchestra and sung by an anonymous vocal quartet. The information at the bottom of the label reads: These are the words & music of the Colour Cartoon Film. Produced by Revelator Films Ltd.
A Boots The Chemicals shop in Enfield ( Highstreet) (1930s)
The tune played on the record was originally released on a film "See How They Won". Well still nothing news under the sun - a lot of records during the 1930s and onwards contained film music, but this film was specially made for Boots The Chemist to promote its activities. Thanks to Judith Wright, archivist of Boots archive in Nottingham, (United Kingdom) I can give you some details about the 1935 campaign around the See How They Won Sound Distributors record and, surprisingly, a special made Ib Iwerks cartoon.
In 1935, Boots Pure Drug Company launched a Winter Health Campaign which focused for the first time on preventative healthcare, encouraging customers to buy products such as throat pastilles, children’s cough mixture, aspirin and cod liver oil to combat the inevitable winter coughs and colds. Central to the campaign was a Hollywood-made colour cartoon “See How They Won” which was released on 14 October 1935 and shown at approximately 400 cinemas throughout the UK. It was the first ever colour cartoon film shown in the UK devoted to Health Propaganda. It was supported by a promotional board game for children, gramophone record, colour booklet and poster campaign as well as compulsory window bills and displays in over 1000 branches of Boots.
The cartoon was made in Brewstercolour whilst Revelation Films of Aldwych, London, prepared the sketches and storyline and UBIwerks, Hollywood, did the animation. Production was by Celebrity Productions Inc.


The cartoon shows the "Bad Health Army" (comprising Brigadier Blood Poison, Flight Commander Influenza and Captain Sore Throat) attacking the "Good Health Brigade" (John Careless who has "never had a day's illness in his life …" and his family). The message is one of preventative medicine - keeping products like aspirin and cough mixture at home so as to combat germs as soon as they strike. ( Judith Wright - Boots Archive)
Ub Iwerks ( 1901 - 1971)
The film was made by one of the most neglected cartoon makers of that period, Ub Iwerks, a name well known by connoisseurs, but complete unknown by the general public.

Of course, most people will know the name of Walt Disney, the creator of great characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and maybe a handful might have heard about Max Fleischer, although his creations Betty Boop, Olive Oyl and Popeye the Sailor have become almost as famous as Mickey and Donald. But who really created Mickey Mouse in its early films? Ub Iwerks. He was born in March 1901 in Kansas City as Ubbe Ert Iwwerks, and became famous as an artist at the Walt Disney studios in the 1920s.
Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks

In 1930 Ub Iwerks resigned and started his own studio: The Iwerks Studio. There he created characters like Flip The Frog and made dozens of great Flip The Frog cartoons. But the Iwerks Studio couldn't handle with the great popularity of the Walt Disney and Fleischer cartoons and broke. One of the smaller projects by Ub Iwerks were two films for Boots The Chemist: See How They Won (October 1935) and Leave it to John (1936). I haven't found any information about the latter, but the first one had a duration of ca. 6 minutes and was directed by Ub Iwerks and produced by Charles Cochrane for the founded Cartoon Films Limited. It was, as said before, scripted in the UK and animated in the States.
The reverse of the cardboard Sound Distributor record. (Thanks to Judith Wright - Boots Archive)

On the reverse of the Sound Distributors cardboard record you can learn more about the film: THE MARCHING SONG OF THE GOOD HEALTH ARMY TAKEN FROM THE FILM “SEE HOW THEY WON”. With banners proudly waving high . The Good Health Army marches by While with steady hand and sparkling eye The family salutes. How perfectly this army's drilled Year in year out, its ranks are filled. With splendid men superbly skilled. The men you'll find at Boots. You'll find a branch right in your town. A Good Health Centre of renown. So don't let bad health get you down. YOU CAN ALWAYS RELY ON Boots

The film was lost for a long time, but it seemed that some copies still exist, retitled as The Microbe Army. The copy I found could have been an issue for The States where Boots The Chemist wasn't active or a bootleg, which was a copy of the original See How They Won, renamed as The Microbe Army as at the end, just before the word Boots is used, the film fragment stops. Although the original film was made in colour, this one is a copy in I black and white version I love to share with you.

Thanks to Judith who sent me some additional information and two great scans of the original record.

This contribution will be published in Dutch at thre Keep Swinging blog as See How They won: Een multimedia Boots campagne uit 1935.

Hans Koert

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