This year we are celebrating 50 years of H+K London. Imagine yourself working in the agency in 1969. Let’s say all the most significant events happened in one day and you were involved. Imagine if Instagram Stories existed at that time; how would your day look?
7:30 – You are watching TV during your breakfast — TV is everything to you and to 91% of the UK households who had a TV at that time. You are switching between three channels, and plush muppets catch your eyes: the first ever episode of the Sesame Street show (10 November). Soon afterwards, this combination of commercial television and educational elements became a revolutionary format that caused major changes in both world culture and the audience’s viewing habits.
8:30 – You are stuck on the tube because the Victoria Line was opened on that day by Queen Elizabeth II (7 March). This made you late for work, but what a special moment to share the ride with The Queen. It was only the second time she had ever been on the tube.
10:30 – The Queen on the tube was not the only major news. You had to cancel your client’s press conference because every newspaper was fully focused on Neil Armstrong taking his historic first steps on the Moon (20 July). NASA’s post-flight conference was legendary, you can check it yourself here. You can hear it well because NASA is using the Sony Sound Forge system. You might also be glad you did not work for NASA then, look at their press kit (254 pages!)
12:30 – You are busy pre-briefing reporters ahead of the launch of the first hatchback car – the Austin Maxi (24 April). Kudos to the team as it was one of the first cars to appear on the BBC’s new car programme Wheelbase, a forerunner to Top Gear (which debuted in 1977). By the way, you would been enjoying color TV for two years for now, and BBC 2 was the first channel to have it.
13:00 It is time for lunch. Food in 1969 was reasonably basic by today’s standards. There were no salad dressings as we know them today. Olive oil, for example, was only sold in tiny bottles in drug stores. About this time, a new drink in London appeared – lager. This light cold beer was the perfect partner for the new spicy food. And McDonald’s was McDonald’s even back then.
14:00 – Back in the office, you look at the tech capabilities you had in those days. It was one year since the computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, and hypertext were first demonstrated to public. It took another 20 years before you could actually use this technology it on a daily basis.
15:00 – Talking about other technologies. Our team, which now looks after clients covering everything from IT infrastructure to entertainment and consumer technology, has been testing ARPANET – a prototype of the Internet (29 October). The access to the ARPANET to a wider group was expanded in 1981. Also, via ARPANET, the first message was sent from a computer to another computer. The very first e-mail in the world looked slightly different then.
16:00 Your colleagues are on their way to New York with a group of UK reporters for the launch of the first US ATM at Chemical Bank in Rockville Center (September 2). The UK team is quite experienced after the first ATM in the world was installed in a branch of Barclays in Enfield by John Shepherd-Barron, a British inventor. Reg Varney, from TV series On the Buses, was the first to withdraw cash.
18:00 What a busy day your team had! After work, you see The Beatles at the rooftop of Apple Records (30 January). You don’t know at the time that this was to be their last public performance.
This fictional day in 1969 was full of events which quickly had a dramatic impact on the way we live and work, and how our society functions. There is a possibility that when we celebrate the 60th birthday of H+K London, a similar blog post will be written by Artificial Intelligence. But I still agree with Steve Jobs who said that “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” This human-centric approach has been right at the heart of H+K London’s business for the last fifty years. Let’s hope that is still the case in 2069!