The Art of the Press Photo
The photographs below were some of the many creative images which were produced by BMC and British Leyland's marketing departments during the 1960s and 70s and used for various press and publicity purposes
Click here to read the background story about Mini press and PR photos
Like every other vehicle manufacturer with a new model, BMC’s management knew that a highly effective marketing strategy could be key to the subsequent success of the Mini in its formative years.
No matter how well it performed on the road or how impressive were its technical specifications, it was essential to showcase this revolutionary new vehicle to potential customers as clearly as possible.
In the late 1950s and continuing for much of the rest of the 20th Century, newspapers and magazines were bought and read by millions of people and the more regularly that impressive pictures of the cars appeared in the inside pages the more it would entice people to visit their local showroom.
For BMC and every other motor manufacturer, getting the marketing right was critically important and while the company produced many highly creative, full-page adverts which played a very significant role in generating sales, they cost a large amount of money. As such, the company’s marketing specialists would also send their own photos to the editorial departments of different publications, and the more impressive the photos they sent, the more chance they would be used with an accompanying story.
The country's leading car photographers would be contracted to take the photographs and there would be much deliberation in advance as to whether it was best to take them in a studio, on the road, or in a specific location with an attractive or particular backdrop. There was further consideration about whether or not to include actors and "models" with the cars, both to add an extra series of realism and because the inclusion of an attractive young female was seen as extra "eye candy" to grab the reader. The photographers would also take each picture at a very specific height, angle and distance to the car to ensure its best features were most prominent. It was an exercise in matching creativity with modern art to try and produce stunning pictures which would make each model of car appear as desirable as possible. Once the best photos were then selected from each shoot, they would be sent to all the relevant newspapers and magazines, along with an informative background text.
It was a strategy which proved highly effective. The different publications had the opportunity to use very high-quality photographs without having to pay anything for them, and more often than not they would appear in the next issue. In return, every time a company "press photo" was featured in a publication there would usually be extra visitors at the showrooms afterwards, hopefully resulting in a few extra sales. It was, in a nutshell, a win-win for everyone.