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Story of a Product


and now Trend setting Dodo

After bursting onto the scene in 1966, the Dodo Pad quickly cemented its status as an organiser that set a trend. Now on its way to its 50th anniversary, the company has revealed the fascinating story behind the product that has changed and evolved along with the giftware industry. The idea was the brainchild of writer, painter

and illustrator, Sir John Verney who needed something to help keep track of his huge family of seven children. And the name? He wanted something that would

ensure family time would not become extinct because of the pressures of daily life – hence, Dodo. By the mid-1970s more than 25,000 copies were

being produced annually. By the early 90s its fortunes had changed and, following the death of Sir John, production was only just kept going. Then along came current managing director, Rebecca Jay who had worked for the prestigious

Saatchi & Saatchi and was looking for a new challenge. When a friend, Bee Peak asked for marketing advice for Dodo Pad, Rebecca was intrigued. She had fond memories of receiving a Dodo diary as a teenager and loved the product. She said: “This was a family

diary and I was a new mum. All my experience to date had been in branding development and advertising and I saw a brand with heritage and humour that I felt had relevance.” Bee and Rebecca published

talented artist, Naomi McBride joined and remains an integral part of today’s creative and development team. Rebecca said: “I started to look

at how we could develop better cash flow as our income was hugely skewed towards the second half of the year. We came up with the idea of the Acad-Pad, a mid- year planner (August-August) predominantly aimed at students and academics. “More importantly, this product

Rebecca Jay

the 1997 Dodo Pad independently using their own savings. Initially, a total of 5,000 copies were printed and by December they had completely sold out and had to do another print run to cope with demand. “We started

from scratch to build a retail customer base and by the Autumn we had more than 70 outlets including Fortnum & Mason, the John Lewis Partnership and Selfridges. We had no computers in our converted sitting room office,” said Rebecca. Bee stood down

in 2004 and

was aimed at a new generation. We had been incredibly popular in

the 60s and 70s and we were now on to the third generation of families using the Dodo Pad.” From its roots as a family planner, Dodo Pad now

offers products for every aspect of life including monthly calendars, wedding planners, dinner party planner, wall planners, jotter pads, an organiser for mums-to-be, house moves, household chores and wellbeing. Rebecca believes the reason for the ongoing

success is simple. She said: “The brand really does have a personality and people relate to it. It’s funny, witty, quirky and creative. The thing with branding is that brands have to be distinctive and stand out from the crowd.” The 50th anniversary collection is designed in

gold and purple and will include some of the best illustrations and weekly grid designs from the past 50 years. By coincidence 1966, like 2016, was a leap year, so many of the illustrations have been lifted straight from the original Dodo Pad. Plans are also underway for a digital Dodo Pad. Extinct? Never.

May / June 2015 Giftware Review & Home Interiors 19

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