The Irish Film Institute (IFI) celebrates Ireland’s advertising heritage with the unveiling of a collection of restored television adverts from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The project, undertaken by the IFI Irish Film Archive, is made possible by the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s (BAI) Archiving Funding Scheme. The adverts, the culmination of an 18 month-long project to preserve and digitise Ireland’s TV advertising past, document the fascinating evolution of Irish consumer society and culture over three decades, and are free-to-view worldwide on the IFI Player, the globally accessible virtual viewing room for material from the IFI Irish Film Archive.

The IFI Irish Film Archive, supported by a grant from the BAI’s Archiving Funding Scheme, has catalogued, digitised, restored and preserved a large collection of 35mm film television advertisements made in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 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 Irish and international corporations.

The collection, numbering nearly 8,000 rolls of film, had been held in a number of damp warehouses for decades and, as a result of poor storage conditions, had suffered physical deterioration and contracted a mould infestation before it was transferred to the IFI Irish Film Archive in the mid-1990s. The IFI Irish Film 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.

Ross Keane, IFI Director, commented, “We are delighted to be adding this critically important material to the IFI Irish Film Archive’s online collection. This project has been a huge undertaking for the organisation, and we are particularly pleased to be able to share the results with the public through our our new IFI Player, which provides access to many parts of our vast collection to audiences right around the world, free of charge.”

IFI Adverts

This project has resulted in the creation of a substantial Irish TV advertising archive of leading brands ranging from Cadbury to Calor, and promotional films for state organisations such as Dublin Corporation, the ESB and CIÉ. It 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 the course of three decades. They tell us much about the community they were made for, as well as the era they were made in, reflecting an Ireland of very different social mores, standards, dress sense, and attitudes to gender and race. Fascinating on many levels, they can be enjoyed from a nostalgic, historical, social or cultural perspective. Over 200 adverts are available to view now on the IFI Player.

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