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Drink Drive Office Party (1964)


Main image of Drink Drive Office Party (1964)
35mm, 0.5 min, black & white
Production CompanyHalas & Batchelor
SponsorCentral Office of Information

The dangers of drink driving after an office party.

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Animation company Halas & Batchelor is best known for its feature-length adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm (1955), which used cel animation in a 'Disney' fashion. But the company could embrace other approaches, with a range of European influences, as demonstrated in films such as Magic Canvas (1948) and Automania 2000 (1963). The photomontage technique used in this public information 'filler' reveals influences closer to home, notably the anarchic vision of younger animators such as Bob Godfrey.

The large, relatively captive audiences for advertising during peaktime television programming were as attractive for the Government as they were for commercial sponsors, and spot TV advertisements became an important arena for public information announcements. Drink driving was a hot political topic in the 1960s, building up to the introduction of the breathalyser in 1967, which replaced the largely subjective judgement of sobriety with a strict legal limit of alcohol in the bloodstream. In this cartoon sponsored by the Central Office of Information, the focus is on the Christmas office party, synonymous with the opportunity to imbibe a small part of the company's profits, often leading to unusual drinking habits and a drunken commute home.

As many as a third of all adverts in the first few years of commercial television were animated. Though this dropped off into the 1960s, animation was still popular with advertisers for the way it could engage a wide audience, vividly express the many abstract claims of product brands and keep costs under control. Halas & Batchelor was set up in 1940 under the auspices of the advertising agency J Walter Thompson, and its first productions were cinema advertisements for products such as Kellogg's Cornflakes and Rinso. The company also began to make public information films during WWII and in the postwar period, notably the Charley series in 1947, and so was in a prime position to profit from the introduction of advertising on television in 1955.

The filler's most striking feature by comparison with today's drink drive campaigns is its polite, safe tone. Similar adverts today use shock tactics to jolt viewers out of the comfort of their sofas, and ram the message home. Here the jolly Christmas music and playful animation would do little to distinguish the advert from the other commercials which would surround it.

Jez Stewart

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Video Clips
Complete film (0:40)
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Halas, John (1912-1995) and Batchelor, Joy (1914-1991)
Public Information Fillers