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Outward facing: W&R Jacob & Co. biscuit labels, 1900-1939

Wendy Williams (Department of Visual Culture, National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Article publication date: 11 February 2014




The aim of this paper is to explore the marketing strategies and tools used by W&R Jacob & Co. in the first four decades of the twentieth century.


This paper is based on close analysis of W&R Jacob & Co. labels and other primary material supported by secondary sources.


The paper explores the company's initial focus on the development of an export market and their competition with similar firms in England for that business. It reveals the ways in which the firm contributed to the development of product naming and labelling conventions within the biscuit industry in this period. Labelling and product presentation strategies are examined to show methods of origination that coped with a prolific rate of introduction of new lines. Political change in Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s imposed limits on Jacob's markets and precipitated a reorientation of labelling strategies.


The paper is based on extensive original research and makes a solid contribution to the understanding of new product development and marketing strategies within the biscuit industry in the first four decades of the twentieth century. It also furthers understanding of the effects of Irish Free State policies on export industry.



The author would like to acknowledge the generous assistance of Douglas Appleyard in the research for this article. Images 1&2, 5-12, 14, 19-23, 26 & 27, 33-44 are © Valeo Foods.


Williams, W. (2014), "Outward facing: W&R Jacob & Co. biscuit labels, 1900-1939", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 56-97.



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