Iconic Ads: Parker Pens – Finishing School

parker pen

Parker Pens was among the best pens in the world. Showcasing its superiority and class by leveraging snob appeal

Collett Dickinson Pearce had recently picked up the Parker Pen account.

Parker wasn’t a brand for the masses. In 1975, Parker introduced the Parker Lady, a smaller and more elegant model aimed at ladies. The Parker Lady is a perfect representation of the target demographic, finishing school girls. A pen in 1975 cost £9.95, which is equivalent to about £88 in today’s money.

Penelope Keith, well known for her role as Margo Leadbetter in The Good Life, instructs students at the Zermatt School for Young Ladies on how to fill out a check. She teaches her privileged young students the intricacies of check-drafting.

“…your final and most important lesson: how to spend Daddy’s lovely money. Cheque books open, girls; pens at the ready! A pen with style! A pen with elan!”

When one girl asks, “Does one spell pence with an’s’ or a ‘c’?” the teacher replies, “I don’t think you need to worry about that, my dear.” Extolling the virtues of the Parker Lady, she exclaims in excellent Queen’s English: “Noughts just seem to roll from its tip.”

CDP had shot another film, but strangely, it seems the agency itself was unhappy with the output and rejected it.

The creative team had one day to come up with a fresh idea. David Brown got an extended team together so that they could quickly arrive at an idea. He admitted that there was a problem with how to deal with it. He was hoping that ‘more the merrier’ and more ideas would be generated.

The original idea for the finishing school came from Paul Weiland. And the team built on it. Some people would come, give a line, and go away. Dave took in all the lines and finished the script. All in half a day! 

He gave the script to John Salmon, who got approval from the client in double-quick time. Dave and Ronnie Turner had seen Penelope, and they thought that she would be right for the role. David Horry and Ronnie brought in the art element. It was shot by ace director Alan Parker.

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