Behind every one of ACME Whistles’ iconic designs there is a story to be told. Perhaps the most compelling is a story that began at the turn of the 20th Century, and still resonates with us to this day. At its heart, it is about our proud military history, but it is also about the servicemen and women and the everyday details that formed their experience of war.
This year, 2018, marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of WWI. A dark time in world history, it was also an age of innovation and hope as people from all walks of life came together to do their bit for the war effort. For ACME Whistles, this period marked the start of a close relationship between the British military and the humble whistle company from Birmingham.
A Vital Role In British Military History
Ben McFarlane, our Head of Sales and Marketing, sums it up perfectly: "ACME Whistles has played an important role in so many era-defining moments throughout British history, including being a reliable tool for soldiers in WWI. With the Centenary approaching, we felt that we should celebrate all of those heroes who used ACME Whistles in the trenches and on the battlefields, hence our new limited edition Peace Whistle."
For every purchase of a Peace Whistle, we will donate 10% of the profits to the Royal British Legion - they carry out vital work to support the Armed Forces community here in Britain, including veterans and their families. As well as our limited edition Peace Whistle, we are commemorating the Centenary of WWI with a very special TV advert which will be airing on 21st October.
This is an entirely new kind of project for us. In all of our 148 year history, we have never before ventured into the world of TV, so this has been an exciting process which has given us the chance to work with some truly remarkable people. We thought we’d share a behind the scenes look at what we’ve been up to, and showcase some of the amazing talents we have been lucky to partner with throughout the entire process.
The Making Of…
The ad was filmed across several locations in the UK - real historical locations which have helped shape the course of our history and feature proudly in our ad. We are a company that has close ties to Birmingham and the Midlands, so it was important to us that we use locations in the Midlands to help us to tell our story. These iconic spots are steeped in history and open a window into the past, allowing us to set the scene and create atmosphere.
One such location was used to visually recreate the war fought in the trenches. The Apedale Heritage Centre, managed by Moseley Railway Trust, was the ideal location for this scene, being based in the Midlands village of Apedale and home to original trains and carriages used during WWI. These vehicles carried out vital services in the trench railways which transported and supported troops during the Great War.
For example, a Kerr Stuart type 0-6-0T train originally made in Stoke-on-Trent, ‘Joffre’, was brought back to the UK from WWI trench railways in France. It was restored in 2011 and used to haul passenger trains, and can now be found at Apedale Valley. Another British-made train which served during WWI has been repatriated to Apedale Valley from Australia. It is a Hunslet War Office class 4-6-0T which has been fully stripped down and restored, and made an appearance during the Tracks to the Trenches Commemoration event held in the summer of 2018.
ACME Whistles has long been a name associated with locomotion, having supplied official whistles to railways across the country. In the spirit of tradition our CEO, Simon Topman, presented 6 very special engraved whistles to the staff at Moseley Railway Trust and Apedale Heritage Centre. These whistles are perfect replicas of the ones used on British railways since the days of steam, and were made using time-honoured turn of the Century techniques.
Another iconic location that you may recognise from the scene with the police officer is Gladstone Pottery Museum. In this scene, a real ACME original can be seen in use: the Metropolitan Police whistle. This whistle is a true legend, developed in 1870 to allow police officers to communicate with each other over long distances in a world before walkie talkies and mobile phones. Its call became synonymous with police work of the late Victorian period, and is familiar through TV, films and period pieces where its sombre, lamenting tone can be heard. Funnily enough, the actor playing our Victorian police officer used to be a fireman, and remembers using whistles made by ACME in his day to day work.
Junction 15 carried out a masterful job of directing and editing the footage, using their creative experience to create an advert that truly resonates. Stunning and profound visual effects were devised by the talented team at Carse & Waterman. Together, the teams created something remarkable that respects and celebrates the memory of our servicemen and women.
To go alongside the emotive imagery of the film, we were privileged to work with local spoken word artist GKA Gay who created a thrilling voiceover for the ad, capturing the strength of feeling that the Centenary invokes in all of us. GKA Gay’s literary and spoken talents are a delight to behold, and the artist herself was a joy to work with on this project.
All in all, this has been a wonderful experience, and we are very excited to see our advert air for the first time on Sunday 21st October. We would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has come together and made this project a reality.