I know they’ve become quite the retro-cliché, but Public Information Films are a fine example of Government agencies passing information directly to the public – without spending an awful lot of time and effort second guessing the media. And I’ve just found an archive online — that you can watch, download, and use (subject to normal Crown Copyright rules).

Some might contend that they’re only remembered due to the limited options we had on TV then, much as people will claim of ‘Morecambe and Wise’ “anyone could have got 20M viewers, there wasn’t anything else on”. But unsuccessful TV programmes didn’t get 20M viewers even in the 60s (in fact Eric and Ernie’s dreadful first series was watched by a tiny amount of people, despite there only being 2 channels). The best of the PIFs are remembered fondly because they were well made and got their message across — and that’s something that can be done with social media tools today.

It’s interesting that they get shorter and shorter (generally) from 33mins(!) to snappier advert style as the years go on, the makers having learnt from the commercial sector. In the same way organisations now can look to the big YouTube hits and other social objects (Lolcats for example) and use some of the best techniques.

If you remember ‘Clunk-Click‘, ‘SPLINK‘ there’s a good chance you’ll have taken on the message too.

Here’s my particular favourite, Tufty the Road Safety Squirrel (I even own the LP):