In Ireland in the 1930s electricity was a marvellous technology and, while available in towns and cities from local suppliers since the turn of the century, its use was limited. ESB had to convince the population at large that electricity was not only perfectly safe but also easy to use and would change their lives for the better.
A massive publicity campaign was launched with the aim of making the country ‘electricity conscious’. Before television or commercial radio the only guaranteed access into the homes of Ireland was through the national and provincial newspapers and an extensive advertising programme was undertaken led by the Public Relations Department and under the leadership of Ned Lawlor.
The early 1930s in spite of the Great Depression had been an opportune time for ESB to launch itself. On the world stage it was a time of movement and modernisation, socially, technologically and culturally and the general enthusiasm for modern technology helped ESB in the push to electrify the country .
Advertising messages were direct and effective – allaying fear of electricity, ‘A child can do it’; the extent of the Shannon Scheme in manufacturing ’90, 000 Horse Power’ and convincing consumers to furnish their homes with domestic electric appliances , ‘Electricity Lights, Cooks, Washes ….. . ‘.
In 1931 ESB opened their first electricity sales showroom on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. The style of advertising focused on the futurist movement with its emphasis on technology and speed.