Our True Intent is All for Your Delight

British Science Week: Technology

To celebrate British Science Week we want to showcase how science has played an integral part in building our Butlin’s resorts and how Billy’s pioneering spirit brought some integral scientific developments to the UK, from engineering all the way through to technology. 

One of the most well-known and used technological inventions of the 20th Century is the television. We all have at least one television at home and as a nation we watch endless hours of television a day.

The first television was invented in the 1920s and at this time the technology was very basic. As the decades went by more technological advances were made and by September 1955, Commercial television was launched. By this time 5.7 million households out of a total of 15.7 households owned a television. This compares to today where 26.5 million households out of 27.9 million own a television.

Having heard about this new technology, our founder Billy Butlin was keen to see how he could utilise this. A year after commercial television was launched in 1955, Billy Butlin spent a total of £14,333 of television advertising, and this was almost double what he spent the previous year when commercial television was launched. By November 1956 Butlin’s was the largest advertiser in the Air Lines and Travel agents category. With Butlin’s nearest competitor being Aer Lingus who spent £12,558. Other holiday camps similar at the time to Butlin’s such as Warner’s and Pontin’s didn’t even feature on commercial television at this stage.

Butlin's TV Ad from the 1950's

Butlin’s TV Ad from the 1950’s

In comparison to other consumer brands of the time, Butlin’s spending on commercial television advertising was relatively small. Brand such as Omo and Daz spent over £200,000 each in the first year of commercial television. Looking at these figures proves how beneficial television advertising was deemed to be to commercial companies.

It could be said that Butlin’s was ahead of its time and it wasn’t until a few years later that Butlin’s began to see competitors advertising on TV.  Pontin’s started to advertise on commercial television, in January 1960 spending £2473 compared to Butlin’s spend of £142,889. Butlin’s was by far the largest advertiser in the ‘tours, travel agents and holiday resorts’ group making up over half of the spending for this category alone in January 1960.

Which the launch of commercial television this field of technology started to rapidly evolve. By the 1960s colour television was invented. The first scheduled colour television broadcast was in 1967 and by the end of the decade in 1969 both the BBC and ITV were both regularly broadcasting programmes in colour.  From this point on Butlin’s consistently continued to advertise on television, producing a number of adverts across the decades and TV advertising is still a method used within the business today.

So it would seem that our Billy was a pioneer in the use of commercial television to promote his company.