This film is part of Free

Symphony in Colour (Persil Advert)

Super soft-sell Persil ad, in the guise of a lush Technicolor essay on colour itself.

Advert 1942 5 mins


Enter a sumptuous, soothing screen universe where popular science and tasteful aesthetics meet in happy harmony. This cinema ‘advertorial’ marries lush, painterly Technicolor images of both the natural and the synthetic world (the synthetic largely shot at Pinewood Studios) to the narrator’s gentle primer on colour and light theory. Spoiler alert: the film was made for Persil, a powder suited to washes of all hues. Talk about a soft sell - it’s only in the final twenty seconds that this branding appears.

The credits are all significant. Lintas, listed as main producer, originated as in-house ad agency for Lever Brothers, half of what became Unilever in 1930; Lintas then went independent but Unilever, who had UK rights to the Persil brand, remained a major client. Also credited is Public Relationship Films, the short films company headed by public information legend Richard Massingham. They probably managed the actual shooting and editing: director Lewis Grant Wallace was a Massingham regular. Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, on the other hand, was an employee of Technicolor, and second only to Jack Cardiff as in-demand master of filming in this proprietary system (later in his career Unsworth would shoot such major features as 2001, Cabaret and Superman).