Vintage Press Advertising

Menace of the Death RatsWelcome to another post following on from the previous blog about Rentokil’s 85th birthday. Two years after British Ratin was first established in 1927 the company embarked upon an educational campaign in the press, and via a number of mail order booklets. This marketing strategy trebled sales, and all efforts were concentrated upon more lucrative contracts. The service consisted of a carefully timed use of two rodenticides, ‘Ratin’ and ‘Red Squill’ known as ‘Ones’ and ‘Twos.’

Press advertising tapped into the fear of the public of rats. Until the creation of an efficient rat poison rat catchers such as Jack Black and their canine helpers were the most efficient form of rodent control. Part of the press campaign was to educate customers about the diseases rats carry and inform them of the advances in science which enabled effective pest control.

A series of booklets were produced focusing on the catchy title, “Ratin – It’s the stuff that kills them and keeps them killed…” The cover is shown above. Other books were called Man versus Rats; the Menace of the Death Rat; Checking the Rat Ravager; and Facts About Rats and Mice. Soon the news of Ratin’s international operations spread throughout Britain and the rest of the world. Three million Ratin baits were distributed in a single year in Beirut.

Meanwhile in the 1930’s business was starting to get brisk. London was still the largest market, but business was stretching into the suburbs and beyond. Each morning the managing director would arrive at the London office at 7.50am to see that everyone was punctual and to issue special instructions. The technicians would then depart with their bait-filled suitcases to various establishments requiring treatment under their contract. One day one of the technicians leaped onto a bus and his suitcase burst open and the entire contents, some 400 bits of stale bread wrapped in newsprint, shot onto the bus platform. The bus driver refused to depart until every last piece has been scraped off the floor.

A wartime advertisement declared that rats were More Dangerous than Nazi Paratroops. The copy declared that in the opinion of Lord Woolton, this cost the nation £40,000,000 annually. Just as the army has its specialists to deal with air-borne invasion, so too the trained surveyors of the British Ratin Company are able to cope, with the insensate attacks of the rat hordes.

The blitz created hundreds of bomb sites which were refuge to rodents. In Britain the job of pest control in wartime was considered to be of such importance that it was scheduled as a “reserved occupation.” All British Ratin staff with three years or more service were exempt from service in the armed forces. The control of rats on farms and on warships was deemed to be of utmost importance to the country.

Look out for my next blog which reveals how a warning telephone call from the UK British Ratin HQ prompted employees to escape Holland before the German army arrived, and how the Danes outwitted the Nazi’s when they tried to take over the business.

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  1. Gihan Manoj

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