Digest>Archives> June 2009

Was Anyone Watching the Light?


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We recently came across this interesting, yet, perhaps amusing, 1980 advertisement by Dewar's White Label Scotch Whiskey.

The advertisement features the Ornsay Lighthouse on the Island of Eilean Sionnach, which is located between the Isle of Skye and the west coast of Scotland. Also known as the Isle Ornsay Lighthouse it was built in 1857 under the direction of famous lighthouse engineer David Stevenson.

The advertisement says, "The Keepers of the Ornsay Light take a day or two off each. But haven’t had a night out since 1857." Obviously, the advertisement is referring to the fact that the lighthouse keepers since they are required to be on duty every night, while manning the beacon from the tower, are enjoying their scotch whiskey."

This leads one to wonder just how much scotch whiskey the keeper’s were drinking and in doing so, were they actually watching the light? Or, was the keeper’s constant state of inebriation finally the cause that made the Northern Lighthouse Board to remove the keepers and automate the light?

Okay, we are being facetious, but let’s take a look at the type of misleading advertising that was used here. At first reading you’d think the lighthouse keepers at the Ornsay Lighthouse were actually endorsing Dewar’s Scotch Whiskey. But, in fact there never was any type of endorsement. Instead the advertisement simply helps to make a subliminal message that you, just like the lighthouse keeper could have a relaxing quiet evening while sipping Dewar’s Scotch Whiskey.

Interestingly, this advertisement appeared in Life Magazine in November 1980, but the Ornsay Lighthouse was automated and its keepers were removed in 1966, fourteen years before the advertisement came out.

This story appeared in the June 2009 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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