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National Life Stories: An Oral History of Wolff Olins

This National Life Stories oral history project consists of a series of forty commissioned interviews recorded between 2001 and 2003 with directors and staff of international branding consultancy Wolff Olins (now part of Omnicom). 

The interviews cover a broad range of individuals at all levels of the company, reflecting its origins, its growth and development, the shifting business climate, key accounts and clients, its impact in the sector, and the company's unique ethos. Interviewees included founders Wally Olins, Michael Wolff and Jane Scruton who set up the business in Camden Town, London in 1965; Chief Executive Brian Boylan; Managing Director Charles Wright; designers such as John Sorrell and Sebastian Conran; consultants, marketing and creative directors past and present; also kitchen, administrative and support staff. 

The company's branding work has included:

  • First Direct (1989)
  • Orange (1994)
  • Heathrow Express (1998)
  • Tate (2000)
  • GE (2004)
  • Unilever (2004)
  • Macmillan Cancer Support (2006)
  • Product Red (2006)
  • Sony Ericsson (2006)
  • the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (2007).

Accessing the collection

To access oral history material:

  • Search for oral history recordings held at the British Library using the online Sound and Moving Image Catalogue (see useful advice on searching the oral history collections).
  • Onsite access to oral history recordings: The Listening and Viewing Service in St Pancras provides free public access to the oral history collections on an appointment basis. Many digital recordings are also available via SoundServer, a computerised listening facility located in the Humanities Reading Rooms.  SoundServer is also available at the British Library’s site in Boston Spa in Yorkshire.
  • Internet access to selected oral history recordings: The British Library Sounds website gives remote access to a selection of interviews from the Library’s oral history collections. Some recordings are currently only licensed to Higher and Further Education users in the UK, others are available for full public access.

Further information

Contact us

Oral History
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

T +44 (0)20 7412 7405 (Rob Perks, Lead Curator, Oral History  / Director of National Life Stories)
T +44 (0)20 7412 7406 (Mary Stewart, Curator, Oral History / Deputy Director of National Life Stories)
T +44 (0)20 7412 7404 (Elspeth Millar, Archivist, Oral History)

External links

Wolff Olins