Further to my posting and the comments on the first Rainbow album (see below), here is a fabulous photograph. It shows the in-store window display which the EMI reps put up to promote the release. Such displays were very much reaching their zenith around this time as labels vied with each other for the most elaborate displays, many of which must have cost large sums of money to produce. Generally for major new releases, the label would agree a five figure promotion budget ahead of the game (it’s no exaggeration to say bands could record an album today on the budget), and then allocate chunks of this to advertising, radio promotion, DJs and point of sale material (which is what this would be under).
The displays were usually put up by the reps, who often had to take a snap to prove they’d done it, or by shop staff. They would be in place for a few weeks, and when taken down were technically supposed to go back to the label. As they were classed as promotional material, shops were not allowed to sell them so in practise many shops just binned these. But if you knew someone in the shop they might save stuff. You would write their name somewhere on the display while it was still on the wall and so ‘reserve’ it. I do recall scuffles breaking out when a couple of people were after the same display!
I still have the poster which you can see on the floor of the window. The large version of the cover art was curved card, with an acetate overlay across printed with the name of the band. I’ve never seen the big Oyster cut-outs.
How many of these were ever made? Hard to say. There were around 700 record stores in the UK at this time, but not all would be deemed worth hosting a display – so maybe around 500? I’d be surprised if more than a few dozen survive.
I must thank Christian Jones for letting me use the image. He says he took it in the window of The Record Bar in Wakefield. You can see a display for The Pretty Things on the right. I remember the shop, it was always well stocked and we went there on the bus sometimes in the late 70s as they had a good stock of the punk and new wave releases. I’m pretty sure I bought my first Police single there. The shop’s place in history is perhaps that they financed the pressing of local lad Bill Nelson’s first solo album. Here’s a grainy pic of Bill outside the very same shop in 1975 from the local Wakefield paper.
Today of course such displays are, like most record shops, a thing of the past.
Thanks also to Tonny Steenhagen.