Although MIPAA is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, I’m more intrigued by the 60th anniversaries being recognised as they hint at a world that seems like another world.
I notice that the Morris Minor is collecting its pensioner’s pass this year, along with the original Land Rover. Although very different vehicles, they seem to have an honesty about them which is missing from today’s smart little urban run-arounds (with their hybrid or low emission credentials) or intimidating over-glossy “Chelsea tractor”.
The CIPR is also celebrating six decades since a cohort of chaps who’d honed their skills in the military services predominantly, decided to form a professional body.
Despite being so close to the end of the 2nd world war, 1948 seems to epitomise a gentler time, when driving and public relations were the work of “gentlemen”. Women were back in their place – which wasn’t behind the wheel of a car and the world was hopeful of exciting new beginnings.
Of course, the reality wasn’t quite the picnic tea image that we might have of that long-ago era. The PR practitioners were turning the skills they had learned in wartime practice to commercial purposes. But there’s still the impression of a bunch of awfully decent gents meeting the Fleet Street johnnies over a glass or two of G&T in the Cheshire Cheese.
The vehicles of those days were only affordable to the elite – even the Morris Minor was the preserve of the refined middle classes. Of course, the world revolved around matters of class and sexism – everyone knowing their place.
Such reflections are a reminder that both PR and motoring are intrinsically linked to their social and political times. For MIPAA’s anniversary year of 1968 – that means Mini Coopers and mini skirts. The year after the Summer of Love – so maybe a little more emancipation for women. Yet few still evident in the world of automotive PR back then, when MIPAA was founded by thirteen men about town (prompted by the Guild of Motoring Writers which is still a predominantly male concern).
In 2008, there are nearly as many female members of MIPAA as men. It is perfectly acceptable for women to be truck drivers or opt for a sporty number – spending their own money most of the time.
But I wonder, in both PR and motoring – are things really much better in 2008 than they were in 1968 or 1948?