Advertising is in the blood

It runs in the family at redPepper

Recently I took a walk down memory lane with my Mum as we enjoyed looking over her scrapbook from the 60s. Perhaps you remember that lost art of collecting newspaper cuttings and lovingly creating leather bound photograph albums, something that this generation will never know thanks to Facebook and Pinterest. As we turned the pages I found an advertisement for a upright piano.


FROM ONLY £199.15.0

That’s Rhodesian Pounds, Shillings and Pence, not English! Indeed it was a handsome price for such a luxury during a time of war and rationing … the Rhodesian War of Independence (1965-79).  According to Wikipedia in 1967 1 Rhodesian £ = US$2.8, where as 1 British £ = US$2.4. But in February 1970 the country scrapped Pounds and introduced the Rhodesian Dollar in time for the country’s Declaration of Independence on the 2nd March 1970.

As I looked at it, it was not the piano that caught my eye or the historical clues to currency changes, but instead the model in the forefront – my Mum!  And what a stunning figure. Tight waisted and elegantly posed, I realised that advertising ran in our blood, I wasn’t the first to turn my hand to marketing after all, my Mum had been there already!

The advertisement was for her brother-in-law’s company, Lindner Pianos. Roy Steen was an Irish entrepreneur who had immigrated to from Belfast to Rhodesia  to seek his fortune with his brother, Tommy. Together the Steen brothers flourished in the heydays of Rhodesia opening multiple businesses across Salisbury including a foam rubber factory, Robray. War was good for business, the resolve of the nation to keep smiling and live life to the full in face of terrorist attacks and international condemnation seemed to create a vibrant economy even for luxury goods.

However as Zimbabwe emerged from the birth canal and politics changed the landscape forever, the white entrepreneurs began to think of packing their bags and heading for more hospitable environments.  Today all of Roy’s and Tommy’s businesses are gone. My family no longer can call that most beautiful of countries “home”.

Roy moved to South Africa and became a much loved piano tuner, travelling throughout the Drakensberg Mountains delighting his customers with charm, melodies and Irish wit. My Mum moved to the UK and started over just as true pioneers have done through the centuries. Perhaps the only regret is that she never had the opportunity to model again, with her looks and grace she could have sold a million pianos!

But what of Tommy? Well, he stayed ‘at home’ in God’s own land. He died after a battle with cancer and was buried there. A little piece of our family, and our hearts, will always be there.


Managing Director