This free sample pack was distributed to retailers in late Summer, 1969. It's interesting that exclusive distribution was via W.H.Smith; later they were distributed by the Royal Sovereign Group (of whom Patterson Blick were a part).
Although the "Red" Action Transfers were produced in 1969, they are all dated "1968" — which is a prime example of pre-dating.
"The second blow was the failure of our expectations in the toy, premium and industrial decoration fields. Hugh Murray had budgeted something like £700 000 sales in these products for 1968-9 and over £1 million in 1969-70 and by February of 1969, three months from the year end, it became obvious that neither of these figures was going to be met. In desperation I took all the industrial marketing away from Hugh to get him to concentrate on the quick-selling toys and premiums. In addition both Dai and I involved ourselves in a last minute effort on a major new toy launch, which just saved our figures for 1968-9 but to a large extent mortgaged the sales we had hoped for in the following year. During that summer of 1969 both Hugh and Dick Hammerton, the managing director of Masson Seeley, left us and I was forced to take direct control of the twelve or so second-line staff involved in that side of the business for a period of about six months while we advertised for a general manager."
Letraset, a Lesson in Growth. pp53-54
By John A Chudley
Published by Business Books Limited, London. 1974.
Translation: Dai Davies (the original inventor of Letraset) & John Chudley (the Managing Director at the time) worked on Action Transfers as an emergency rescue project once they realised the company was in trouble, after February 1969.
That year, 25% of Letraset's profits were from Toys. You could justifiably say that Action Transfers saved Letraset.
A great new toy backed by big big promotion
Outside Inner Flap:
Just look at the sample enclosed. Rub down one of the super colour figures onto the background provided and see for yourself the instant appeal of Action Transfers.
Made by Letraset and distributed exclusively throughout England and Wales by W.H.Smith & Son.
Big Big Television Advertising and Full Pages in the Top 20 Comics
June and School Friend
Look and Learn/Ranger
T/V Comic [sic]
More than 110 full page Ad's [sic — this is getting ridiculous!]
30 second spots all stations T.V…
To launch this really great new line
Packed in displays —
containing 6 each
of 12 designs
Recommended Retail Price 2/-
74/- per pack plus P.T. 27/- per pack
SUPER Action Transfers available at 5/11
38/- per dozen plus P.T. 13/11 per dozen (2 each of 6 designs)
Inside Inner Flap:
WITH A WONDERFUL MARK-UP of almost 60% FOR YOU
Appropriately, the set featured on the display box is Peter Archer's "Pirate Island". Peter is particularly fond of pirates! Also note that Super Action Transfers are "available".
THE TIMES MONDAY SEPTEMBER 29 1969
Management edited by Robert Jones
In search of competition: John Chudley (left), managing director of Letraset, and Dennis Bloor, sales manager for their new range of products
Photograph by John Manning
How Letraset, unhappy with its one-product image, spread into industrial fields — and toys
…This latest operation ties together many of the changes that have been taking place at Letraset. Not much more than a decade old (it started with £3,000 of borrowed capital in 1959) and forecasting pre-tax profits of £650,000 for the year ending next April (against £416,000 last year, depressed by bad results in the American offshoot), Letraset is famous for the sheets of transferable letters it sells to designers.
Such sheets and associated products still provide around 65 per cent of Letraset turnover, but "though there is enormous potential still in the graphic arts business we expect the industrial applications side to be as big in five or six years". If that sounds a heady prospect, John Chudley adds, "we have worked out our projections forward in some detail". So far, industrial applications provide around 10 per cent of sales.
Besides the graphic arts and industrial divisions, Letraset's main raid out of "one product" precariousness has been into toys — now contributing about 25 per cent of turnover. The company has been in these for about four years, first in conjunction with Waddington's, then with Royal Sovereign Group. The "toys" are dry transfer packs which Letraset believes could be "as versatile as the jigsaw".
The P.A.-recommended reorganization now provides an international operations division to supervise problems such as the American one. Graphics, the cornerstone of the business, have a division of their own, so do services, and so does a technical back-up operation, while toys, premiums (labels on promotional material) and the industrial side have one division between them.
"It gets a bit wearying" says John Chudley, not altogether unhappily, "being the leader all the time."
Never mind: perhaps competition ("it has been fairly strongly competitive for about five years") will get worse.
Picture Credit: The SPLAT Scan Archives
© Tom Vinelott 2020