Five for Friday: Five global brands turning 100 this year

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

It must have been an exciting time to be in business a hundred years ago: The First World War had just ended, commercial motoring and aviation were just revving up and the world was looking forward.

So this week we’re looking at five globally recognised brands that are celebrating their centenary year. They lasted the course and proved themselves over the last century. And now they’ve earned their ‘heritage’ stripes.

Tesco

Let’s kick off on the high street, because old favourite Tesco start life as a series of market stalls all the way back in 1919. Today it’s a global retail brand generating £56bn in revenue and with stores from Glasgow to Kuala Lumpur.

It’s had its fair share of drama and scandal over the years, but the company plans to celebrate its 100th year with a raft of activities. The first of the was the launch of a whole new brand. In January the firm announced that a new series of stores, called Jack’s - named after Tesco founder Jack Cohen - would open across the UK in 2019.

Every year helps: High street retailer hits 100 year mark

The retailer also produced a fun nostalgia video traipsing through time and its shopping aisles to mark its celebration and we should expect to see more as Tesco celebrates its centenary throughout the year.

British Airways

Here at Prolific London, we’ve been following BA’s 100th birthday celebrations so far and it’s fair to say it’s pretty impressive. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a bit of a plane spotter at heart.

The company was actually formed in 1974, when the government of the time merged the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation merged with British European Airways. But BA traces its lineage all the way back to Air Transport and Travel Limited, which made its first flight on 25 July, 1919.

British Airways is today one of the world’s most recognised brands flying to 183 countries with a fleet of more than 275 aircraft.

Last month it kicked off its centenary anniversary with a star studded video themed ‘Made by Britain’. The nostalgic advert features everyone from Oscar winning actress, Olivia Coleman, singer Paloma Faith and Gary Oldman, to boxer, Anthony Jashua, paralympian Ellie Simmonds and artist Grayson Perry.

Fly the flag: BA's 100th birthday is already a high flying event

They make up the BA 100 - which the airline said it is curating to show the 100 makers of modern Britain. The BA 100 represent the best of business, environment, fashion, film and entertainment, food and drink, music, art and design, philanthropy, science and technology, and sport.  

The airline brand is also doing good deeds as part of its centenary under the #BAMagic100 hashtag. This is set to get very emotional and generally awesome, as BA sets out to arrange surprise proposals, reunite loved ones, arrange money-can’t-buy experiences and creating holidays of a lifetime.

BA has also commissioned some uber retro aircraft redesigns as part of its 100th birthday. last month it rolled out a 747 jumbo repainted in old BOAC livery. Coming soon will be a second jet - Airbus 219 - which will be retro painted in the old British European Airways livery. We can’t wait.

Bentley

If you could sum up British luxury in one word, Bentley would surely be at the top of the list. 100 years ago Walter Owen Bentley founded the famous car company in Cricklewood, North London.

Better with age: Bentley stuns with new marques for centenary

As part of its Centenary celebrations, Bentley has created an incredible tribute to the legacy of its founder. The firm said it’s putting together an exquisite package of handcrafted features for every car built at the factory in Crewe in 2019. 

This includes the careful repurposing of the first ever Bentley’s crankshaft into 100 pieces which are being fitted to 100 special edition Mulsanne W.O. Edition vehicles by Mulliner.

The firm also showed off at the Geneva Motor Show another special in the shape of the Continental GT Number 9 Edition Bentley.  

Once again, only 100 of these cars will ever be made. The company said it ‘represents a unique opportunity to own a car with rare celebratory details; a car that will never be available again.’

Bentley has made a series of powerful videos to mark its 100th birthday, the latest, below, shows off the stunning Continental 9. Basically, I want one.

Continental dream: Bentley's centenary editions get serious

The company said it’s planning a series of rolling events throughout this year featuring everything from ’extraordinary drives, to fabulous festivals, sophisticated parties and illustrious motor shows’.

Citroën

Let’s stick with the car makers, because Bentley shares its centenary with another global auto mark - French car maker Citroën.

Founded exactly 100 years ago this month by André-Gustave Citroën, the company has kicked off celebrate its centenary celebrations by launching an all-electric car.

Funky future: Citroën launches EV as part of 100 year celebrations

The Citroën Ami One Concept, was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and in a cute nod to the company’s milestone birthday, has a range up to 100 kilometres. The company described the tiny EV as “a disruptive all-electric ‘object’ that places digital technology at the heart of a new urban mobility experience, offering more freedom and peace of mind”.

You really should watch the firm’s touchy feely video that shows a hitchhiker thumbing a lift through the company’s generations of vehicles, starting with the beloved 2CV.

100 year hitch: French automaker takes you on a marque journey

Citroën has also redesigned its Origins website to offer viewers a unique insight into every model it’s ever produced. There are 78 in all including one helicopter, a tractor and fire engine.

Of course, I couldn’t resist clicking on the fabulous 2CV icon, which reveals a raft of interactive content, photos, history and 360 degree widgets.

The French auto firm is also holding a massive car festival in the summer, so worth putting in your diary if you fancy a jaunt across to the Continent in July.

Hilton

Finally, one of the world’s best known hotel brands notches up its 100th year on the bed post, if you get my drift.

Over the last century, Hilton has grown from a single hotel in Cisco, Texas, to nearly 5,500 hotels and 14 brands in 106 countries. That's a lot of rooms.

Looking good at 100: Hilton Hotels is ready to celebrate

The company said on its website that it’s hosted more than three billion guests since 1919 and enlisted nearly ’10 million Team Members in the company’s mission to fill the Earth with the light and warmth of hospitality’. Aw!

The hotel group is counting down to the start of its global centenary celebrations and is already hosting special events at its locations around the world. 

Earlier this month famed Michelin-starred Chef, Jacques Marcon, was invited to the Millennium Hilton Bangkok, where he collaborated with Executive Chef, Shaiful Kassim, as part of the centenary celebrations. 

The firm released a new video last month celebrating its first 100 years with a lot of cool facts. For example, did you know that Hilton was the first to offer room service, in room direct dialling, TVs and digital keys? It also claims to have been the world’s first airport hotel.

Mature view: Hilton at 100 wants to be good global citizen

It’s clearly a pioneer in the hospitality sector, and it says this is continuing as it plans to double in size over the next decade.

In the lead up to its centenary, the company launched a new type of urban micro-hostel designed around millennials. Motto by Hilton clearly takes aim at the AirBnB phenomenon, offering much more flexibility and affordability.

I think we can expect to see a lot more over the course of this year from #Hilton100, especially once celebrations really get going on May.

All five of these global brands have survived crises, scandals, wars, and even the 1970s. It shows they have real heritage, which is a vital element of any trusted brand these days. 

It does make you wonder though how companies like Amazon, Facebook and Apple might look when and if they manage to survive their first 100 years.

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