Woodmansterne has a reputation for its innovative marketing, but its latest promotional coup d’etat, involving medieval embroidered art and the French president Emmanuel Macron, which has resulted in millions of people seeing the designs from its Hysterical Heritage range, was beyond the wildest dreams of the Watford-based publisher.
When Emmanual Macron made the offer to loan the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK, for the first time in 950 years in the name of strengthening the Anglo-French relationship after Brexit, few would have predicted that this grand gesture would percolate through to the greeting card world.
But the witty minds of greeting card stockists were quick to spot an opportunity, with Calliope Gifts (in Dorking, Alton and Hayward’s Heath), Bath’s Card Collection and The Handbag Shop in Whitchurch being among those to take to social media channels promoting the spoof card designs from Woodmansterne’s Hysterical Heritage range to their customers.
The surge in consumer interest went into overdrive however when the Daily Mail latched onto the tongue-in-cheek treatment of the historical art based on the Battle of Hastings, including an extended article peppered with several images from the Woodmansterne card range on its Online portal, which is the most visited English-language newspaper website in the world, attracting over 14 million visitors daily.
“How amazing to appear on the Daily Mail Online site… I feel I’ve finally made it… ha ha ha!,” joked Ian Blake, art director for Woodmansterne and the originator of the Hysterical Heritage range, along with copywriter Alex Lowe, who still co-writes the gags.
PG Buzz put ‘Blakey’ in the hot seat to reveal more about the range.
What gave you the idea for the range? “I had this idea a while back, and when it was the 960th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings I felt it was the perfect timing for publishing the concept.”
How confident were you about the range? “It felt it would have pretty universal appeal since everyone knows about the Bayeux Tapestry and that part of British history, even if it’s only Harold getting shot in the eye! Or just the 1066 date when the Battle took place.
It’s always hilariously incongruous to have a figure from the past (in this case a thousand years) saying contemporary things that somehow illuminates something unexpected about how we live today.”
It’s nice to borrow the style – one that looks so ancient and turn it to our own advantage. By creating my own soldiers and town folk in the style of the tapestry and then using an ancient font works as the icing on the cake.”
Were you a history bod at school? “To be honest I hated history at school, but having created a range inspired by such an historical event, I like to think my teacher would have given me an ‘A’ for this piece of ‘homework’!”
How do you feel about the Bayeux Tapestry coming to the UK in 2022? “I will be bashing down the door and setting up a stall outside to sell cards… only joking!
I will definitely visit the exhibition to really appreciate its true craftsmanship and embroidery. Great that it is coming home to the UK, having been originally created here before it was shipped off to France.”