Gromit replaces Nipper

Llew

Llew

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From The Sunday Times March 1, 2007

Listen Gromit, you’re top dog now

Maurice Chittenden
THE little dog listening to an old gramophone has been one of the world’s most instantly recognisable images for 100 years.

Until now. Nipper the terrier is being replaced this week by Gromit, the Plasticine dog from the Wallace and Gromit animated series.

The original image is based on a 19th century painting by Francis Barraud. Nipper was supposed to be listening to a recording of his dead owner. Hence the name given to the picture: His Master’s Voice.

Over the past century it has been adopted as a logo by different record companies in Britain, the United States and Japan, and by HMV, the world’s biggest chain of record stores.

This week the HMV group is switching to Gromit. The only master’s voice he is used to is Wallace saying: “Nice cheese, Gromit.”

It is a unique marketing deal in which no money has changed hands.

HMV is to use the Gromit image in the windows of its 220 stores and in advertisements in the press and on the London Underground for the next three months as part of a collaboration with Oscar-winning Aardman Animations, the maker of Wallace and Gromit and films such as Chicken Run and Flushed Away.

The chain decided on the change to refresh its image and to attract younger customers.

Aardman’s Nick Park, the film maker behind Wallace and Gromit, agreed to spend three weeks overseeing the sculpture of a new 4in-high model of the dog listening to a gramophone. Aardman believes the association will boost sales of DVDs of Gromit’s films and its other titles.

“It’s a great honour to be stepping in the same pawprints as an icon as big as Nipper,” said Park last week. “Gromit will look after the seat for as long as Nipper allows.”

Gennaro Castaldo, HMV’s spokesman, said: “It is a merger of two much-loved logos. The agreement is for an initial three-month period, but I imagine it’s very likely that we’ll be discussing an extension of this and other ways that we can work together in future.”

With sales of CDs slipping, record stores like HMV are determined to attract younger customers. Last week a 200-strong queue of youngsters formed outside its flagship store in London’s Oxford Street to see Destiny Hope Cyrus, the 14-year-old star of the Disney Channel television series Hannah Montana.

Other stars who have made personal appearances at the store include Joss Stone, Girls Aloud, the Killers and Madonna.

Despite their differences in appearance, Nipper and Gromit do have something in common. Both are from Lancashire.

Nipper, so named because of his tendency to nip visitors’ legs, lived in Liverpool with Barraud after his first owner, the artist’s brother, died penniless.

The artist noticed that Nipper used to sit in front of his Edison-Bell phonograph, an early cylinder recording and playing machine, and look puzzled as to where the sound came from. He replaced the phonograph with a gramophone when a gramophone company agreed to buy the copyright after he completed the painting in 1898. Nipper first appeared on a letterhead in 1907.

The original painting is valued at £500,000 and is kept in the boardroom at the headquarters of EMI Records in London.


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Dateline March 1 (top of article)

Couldn't put the real one perhaps? :-rofl2

Llew
 

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