Shaping markets
Packaging, brands and trademarks
in The business of birth control
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Chapter 2 turns to the next battleground in the commodification process in this transitional period: packaging, branding and trademarking. While it was only from the late 1930s at the earliest that the LRC’s famous brand ‘Durex’ became synonymous with the condom, this chapter draws attention to the importance of packaging, branding and trademarks before ‘Durex’. It draws on two prominent examples of branded contraceptives – W. J. Rendell’s ‘Wife’s Friend’ Soluble Quinine Pessary, registered in 1894, and Lambert’s ‘Pro-Race’ rubber cervical cap, registered in 1922 – and outlines the numerous infringement battles over imitation of these brands in the interwar period. Tensions between manufacturers and surgical stores not only indicated the perceived commercial value of brands and trademarks, but were indicative of firms’ attempts to establish themselves as the legitimate authorities on birth control in a more open market for such goods. Branding and trademarks, both a mixture of traditional and modern designs, were a way to convince consumers of the quality and reliability of products, and evidence from the Rendell company archive suggests a degree of success. Rendell’s customers, in particular, viewed these contraceptives as reliable through the identification of the firm’s branding and trademarks.

The business of birth control

Contraception and commerce in Britain before the sexual revolution


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