Here’s timeliness for you. Earlier this month, HMV Group suffered a financial collapse. This left the brand and its canine mascot, “Nipper,” in limbo.
HMV is short for “His Master’s Voice”.
According to Wikipedia:
The trademark image comes from a painting by English artist Francis Barraud, A.R.A. and titled His Master’s Voice. It was acquired from the artist in 1899 by the newly-formed Gramophone Company. According to contemporary Gramophone Company publicity material, the dog, a fox terrier called Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud’s brother Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, along with a cylinder phonograph and a number of recordings of Mark’s voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the trumpet, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas.
In early 1899, Francis Barraud applied for copyright of the original painting using the descriptive working title Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph. He was unable to sell the work to any cylinder phonograph company, but The Gramophone Company purchased it later that year, under the condition that Barraud modify it to show one of their disc machines. The image was first used on the company’s catalogue dated December 1899, and additional copies were subsequently commissioned from the artist for various corporate purposes.
Later, at the request of the gramophone’s inventor Emile Berliner, the American rights to the picture became owned by the Victor Talking Machine Company. Victor used the image more aggressively than its UK partner, and from 1902 on all Victor records had a simplified drawing of the dog and gramophone from Barraud’s painting on their label. Magazine advertisements urged record buyers to “Look for the dog”.
As a Canadian, I remember Nipper as part of the RCA brand. But in Ireland, where HMV stores have already been shuttered, the joke is easily understood.
Creative Director: Damien Hanley
Art Director: Stephen Rogers
Copywriter: Alan Kelly
Illustrator: Jesse Campbell-Brown
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