22 November 2013

On heritage and plausibility

I was about to write to BigFoodConglomerate.com about a package of frozen haddock fillets. Initially it was about my pedant's delight in finding an error. 

The sleeve carries a photo on the back purporting to be of "Harry Ramsden's restaurant 1928".  It could conceivably be from 1958, but  no earlier--the car appears to be an Austin A40 Somerset, produced from 1952 to 1954, according to Mr W I Kipedia.

...but who, in 1928, would photograph a chip-shop for the record? They come and they go and only Harry Ramsden's (to my knowledge) has become a national brand.

And who, in the packaging design department--probably mean age 30?--could be expected to recognise those distinctive differences between "post-war" and "pre-war" cars at this distance, 60 years on?

(The TV listings section of my Sunday paper has a small box on each page entitled "You Say", with snippets from readers' comments. (It's beautifully edited, to give trolls and pompous obsessives exposure to make fools of themselves, and compulsive reading.) Anachronisms in period drama is a perennial theme, and of course seen as evidence of terminal decline of the education system and indeed of civilisation as we know it.)

But I'm posting about the error instead of just pointing it out, because it is not the mistake itself which matters--I'm sure I'm far from the first person to spot it. It could not, I think, be a genuine mistake. Somebody had to make a decision and sign off on a deliberate deception, however trivial. To testify to my own pompous obsessiveness, it is exploiting the trivial ignorance of the consumer to misrepresent the provenance of the product--quite unnecessarily because the picture itself is unnecessary.

It doesn't do anything for the trustworthiness of the brand, so it works directly contrary to its intention.

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