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Wars are good for business. In some cases, it is the production of war materials that generates profits for companies, while in others, conflicts provide new opportunities, create new demands and new needs, some unforeseen. One necessary symptom of war is the rise in patriotism and nationalism, elements that are crucial to sustain a successful war effort. For many companies often selling mediocre products, appealing to these national emotions can produce positive results and increased revenues.

The First World War provides a useful exercise in understanding the power and motivation behind commercial advertising in time of national crisis. In an era before radio and television when cinema was still in its infancy, the printed page, bulletin or poster was the main mechanism for communicating an idea or message to a wider audience. If one had a product to sell, newspapers and magazines provided the best forum for promotion. As the war began to totally dominate the mindset of the public, it made sense to embrace the war effort and appeal to the imagination by seeming to support that effort through advertisements that used military or patriotic symbolism, often in clever and imaginative ways. Two streams of consciousness underlie many of these advertisements: correspondence between home and the front; and gift parcels or care packages to loved ones. The object: to have people at home buy products to send to their men at the front; and to purchase products that have been proven in wartime.

One popular illustrated weekly newspaper was The Sphere. Beginning publication in 1900 during the height of the Boer War, it owed its very foundation to that war and the public yearning for images of the South African conflict. By 1914, it had taken its rightful place alongside such established competitors as the Illustrated London News and The Graphic. These weeklies derived their revenue from subscriptions as well as an increasing amount of advertising, and as they reached a wide audience that enjoyed a certain affluent lifestyle, it was not difficult to attract advertisers to their pages. With the declaration of war in August 1914, the tone of many advertisements took on increasing war themes. Mundane products such as cigarettes, writing utensils, clothing, beverages, toiletries, and the like, began to be promoted using martial imagery. Testimonials and endorsements from soldiers at the front, “War Epigrams” as one advertisement calls them, only added to their increased visibility and no doubt tapped into the emotions of consumers. The more patriotic a product was seen to be, the greater the sales. A touch of humor might also make the product even more palatable.

Various themes can be identified in the advertisements that appeared throughout the four years of war. At the outset, patriotic duty was called upon at a time when military service was still voluntary. Recruiting, training and the departure of the men on service were common strands used to promote products. And as the men went off to war, it was important that they were ‘equipped’ with the right items – cigarettes, pens, whiskies, soaps, medicinal pills, and hot beverages to sustain them. Within a few short weeks, some of those men were returning home as invalids with special needs. Companies such as Carters’ advertised products “for the wounded, the invalid or temporary disabled” such as wheeling chairs, bed rest, and self-propelled bath chairs.

Advertisers certainly did not shy away from representing the wounded. With so many men returning injured, the subject could hardly be ignored, and this new phenomenon provided yet another avenue to promote products suitable for the wounded and the convalescent. Even an advert for Glaxo baby food printed in late November 1915 incorporated a photograph of ‘little Joan’, 19 months old, offering candy to wounded soldiers at St. Margaret’s Hospital, Twickenham. Oxo_No33. jpg (90175 bytes)In another ad, a soldier with his arm in a sling manages to shave with ease because he uses a Royal Vinolia Shaving Stick. A full-page promotion for Oxo printed in the paper of March 20, 1915, carried a photograph of a wounded soldier in bed in an old French chateau. The accompanying letter states that ‘it did not strike me that this would make a good advertisement for your firm until after it was developed’. The photograph included a bottle of the meat stock product on a chair beside the bed and we read that owing to the soldier’s palate being broken, ‘he could only take liquid food, and I have no hesitation in saying that we have found OXO to be invaluable in keeping up his strength, and he prefers it to any other food’. Abdulla Cigarettes used an illustration of a smiling Scottish soldier with his arm in a sling happily smoking one of their products in an advertisement that appeared early in 1918. To his right was a poem of four stanzas entitled ‘Cheero!’ extolling the virtues of Abdulla cigarettes while in hospital, as the last verse proclaims:
      If there’s anyone who wonders what to send us Boys in Blue,
      We’re “dead nuts” upon Abdullas – and there always seems too few!
      Applications of Abdullas soothe and cheer and give us heart,
      And a wonderful improvement soon appears on every chart –
      For there’s not a Lad in Hospital who isn’t wild to get
      At a beautiful big boxfulof Abdulla’s Cigarette.

John_Walker2. jpg (90175 bytes) Several whiskey companies drew a connection with the sea service as a need to fortify against the cold. Usher’s and Buchanan’s both used pictures of naval ships at sea to promote their products, while the familiar figure of Johnnie Walker dressed in his costume of 1820 replete in top hat and monocle, keeps popping up in wartime scenes, from a training camp, an aerodrome, meeting French, Italian, and Imperial allies, traveling to Egypt, and to a trench scene in December 1915. Here, Johnnie asks a Canadian soldier seated outside a dug-out named ‘The Toronto Ritz’: “You get your letters home, censored, eh?” to which the soldier replies, “Yes, but we just put, ‘like Johnnie Walker,’ then those at home know we are ‘still going strong!’” A series of ‘Johnnie Walker War Cartoons’ were used in some of the company’s adverts.

Buchanan’s published a series of fine pictures painted by Charles Pears in black and white toaccompany its ads. Besides several naval scenes, a Zeppelin is picked out in the beam of a spot-light in an ad from December 5, 1914, while in another title ‘The Spirit of the Empire’, we see a British bulldog sitting defiantly on a limber of a gun carriage. One study in black and white published on January 16, 1915, shows a cruiser capturing a German liner. Others show the Dover Patrol with the White Cliffs in the background, and a Red Cross ship homeward bound.

Messrs Andrew Usher & Co. used the clever slogan “Safe in all Waters” to advertise its scotch using a series of drawings of naval ships in rough seas.

Automotive Products
Walker’s counterpart over at the Dunlop company drops by similarly in promotions for that company’s tires. In April 1916, old Mr. Dunlop, in top hat and tails, asks an officer seated in a car how are the tires sticking it? “Like ourselves sir, for the duration of the war!” A few months later, Mr. Dunlop is most gratified at the way his tires are standing-up to “the abnormal stress of active service conditions”, as we see a drawing of a car at the front that has hit a pothole, yet the tire has remained intact. To make the point that Dunlop tires are ideal for traction, the company produced several advertisements showing various scenes from the front.

A Russian competitor of Dunlop, Columb Tyres, made its appearance in an ad on March 20, 1915. The twin thrust of this was the fact that it was the product of a British ally, but more importantly was endorsed by General Botha of South Africa, a former enemy but now staunch supporter of the allied effort. The picture makes reference to the latter’s capture of de Wet, another former Boer commander but pro-German in sympathies.

The Michelin Tyre Company appealed to the patriotic spirit of the British public to purchase their products, and employed the services of the ‘Michelin Man’ in a number of pictorial promotions. Michelin_No41. jpg (90175 bytes)In one full-page cartoon of May 15, 1915, a soldier removes a tire from the body of the Michelin Man to repair the punctured wheel on a military ambulance that is stuck on the battlefield as shot and shell rain down and a town burns in the distance. “The Rib of Life” as the advertisement proudly proclaims. Two months earlier, we see the Michelin Man lying in the English Channel pushing away a German torpedo and surrounding a mine as enemy U-boats sail away and a Zeppelin flies overhead, as he states “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my rubber’s pure.”

Automobile and motorbike manufacturers also promoted their products masked under wartime themes. In a Harley-Davidson advertisement, we see a handsome officer astride a 1916 model, with his lady climbing into the side-car: “A soldier bluff with a little bit of fluff on a winter afternoon,” read the caption. Another motorbike maker, the Triumph Cycle Company of Coventry heralded their bikes, thousands of which were “in use on all the Fronts.” In one of the company’s ads, a motorbike rider is firing his pistol. The Wolseley Motor Company of Birmingham included images of their vehicles on war service at the front; while the Sunbeam Motor Company of Wolverhampton used a photograph of one of their models in front on the Great Pyramid with four soldiers sitting in or on the vehicle. The one who sent the picture offered a fitting endorsement: “To get a car up here means driving up a gradient of 1 in 12 and the sand is several inches deep. Not many cars get up here, but any one of the three Sunbeams here can get up with four passengers as well as a driver. The cars run splendidly and the same water is still in the radiator which was put in in England.”

The oil companies also saw an opportunity of touting their products. The Shell Oil Company made the valid statement that “Never before in war has the value of the petrol-driven engine been so incontestably proved as in the present conflict.” Therefore, “Be on the side of the Allies – and use ‘Shell’.” Echoing this sentiment was the Anglo-American Oil Company, makers of Pratt’s Motor Spirit, who declared “This is a Petrol War”, and claimed that Pratt’s “is used more than any other motor fuel by our own and our Allies’ Forces, on land and on sea, in operations at the front.”


Allied troops appear in several advertisements enforcing the idea of their contribution. In another Beecham’s Pill ad from March 20, 1915, a British soldier offers his French counterpart a pill under the heading ‘”Bonne Camaraderie”. Good Mates and Good Medicine!’ The French connection is employed in several other advertisements by the Beecham company. In one, we see a smiling lady wearing a familiar bonnet to denote her nationality peers over the shoulder of a British soldier in the act of taking a pill. She is thinking to herself, “The British have such a ‘Taking’ Way!’ A drawing for Smith's Glasgow Mixture tobacco which was published in the paper on January 23, 1915, depicts seven allied soldiers seated or standing in a group smoking pipes. They represent soldiers from Britain, India, Russia, Belgium, France, Japan and Italy, forming ‘A Good Mixture’. Johnnie Walker is seen mixing with French and Italian officers.

Writing Utensils
This was a correspondent’s war. While soldiers in previous conflicts had written letters home, the vast numbers of men serving in the services during the Great War, as well as the increased literacy rates, not to mention the close proximity of the western front to home, meant that letter writing was a popular means of keeping in touch with home, albeit under the watchful eye of the censor. “Keep open the lines of communication,” declared one ad for Swan Pens. This did not go unnoticed by the makers of writing pens, and they employed some imaginative metaphors and motifs in their advertisements to target their products to the people at home. In one Swan Pen ad, we see a field gun with the barrel replaced by a fountain pen. It “never misses fire, and vanquishes all imitators. Many officers and men in both Services have equipped themselves with ‘Swans’.”

A theme common to a number of pen-makers’ ads was the distinction between those who had pens at the front, and those without: “Fortunate the man who in the intervals of fighting can take out his Waterman’s Ideal and write a hurried note to loved ones at home. He is the envy of his fellows.” And among those who had pens, which product was superior? “Send a pen that does not need a filler,” because fillers are bound to break, as we see in the disappointment on the face of a soldier in an advert for Onoto Pens. Watermans_Pen. jpg (90175 bytes)His comrade, rightly armed with one of the pens admonishes him, “Why didn’t you ask her to send you an Onoto?” The company boasts proudly that their pen is a British invention, produced by a British company with British capital, and stands alone as the one really satisfactory self-filling safety pen. However, in an advertisement for rival Swan’s Pens printed a week later on December 18, 1915, we learn that glass ink bottles had been prohibited from being sent to the Front “and so the ink for replenishing fountain pens had to be in tablet form.” A Swan pen comes with a nickel tube of ‘Swan’ ink tablets. One tablet to a penful of water. No filler needed.” None would admit however that the pencil was the writing implement of choice because it was much cheaper, more accessible, quick and easy to use, did not smear in bad weather, and required no ink.

As one pen-maker claimed: “It is safe to say that soldiers and sailors who have ‘SWAN” Pens write more letters than those without them. The reason is simple. The ‘SWAN’ is wonderfully handy – always easy to write, easy to carry. If you want letters from the Front send your friend a Swan.” A good example is an advertisement for the Swan fountain pen that was published in the paper on May 1, 1915. A figure dressed in early 19th century clothing stands on a map of Europe redrawing the boundary of Germany further to the east. At his feet is a gnarled-faced bulldog. The inset box has a drawing of a rolled-up treaty but the name of it cannot be seen. The caption reads “Altering the map with his ‘Swan’ Fountpen.”

Waterman’s used the slogan ‘The Super-Pen for Our Super-Men’. Later on, the company used the endorsement on Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, “the most popular War Cartoonist of the day”: “It’s a splendid pen and is proving of enormous use to me. It makes one want to write –which is a difficult job in my case, as there is nothing I dislike doing more.” Two other endorsements, by a lieutenant in the B.E.F., and a medical officer confirm Bairnsfather’s approbation.

Medicinal Products
Medicinal supplies for the troops were constantly promoted through clever advertisements, none more so than those commissioned by the Beecham Company. A recognized leader in settling upset stomachs, Beecham’s Pills had a proven record. A name brand that people trusted, the Beecham’s company immediately went on the offensive shortly after the outbreak of war, with a lengthy series of sometimes semi-humorous advertisements. At the outset, we see soldiers in training. In one of the earliest examples, an officer in a barrack room asks an orderly whether there are any complaints. “No Sir! they all take Beecham’s Pills,” he replies. Later, the theme of the Triple Alliance is employed in a double meaning, “The People – Good Health & Beecham’s Pills,” published on December 12, 1914.

The war is in its early stages, the British people are very aware of the alliance that has brought them to this point, the Triple Entente with France and Russia, and the call has gone out for more recruits. An ad from January 9, 1915 appears to support the recruiting drive by depicting a sergeant of the Scots Guards inviting one to “Join the Ranks –“, but not of the army but “of those who take Beecham’s Pills.”

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This double entendre is used to strong effect in a cartoon by the celebrated artist, Bruce Bairnsfather. Here we see a British Tommy firing a machine gun, the name of a similar weapon of which provides the emphasis of the caption: “A good ‘Maxim’ to Remember. Beecham’s Pills will keep you up to the mark.” The sketch bears Bairnsfather’s initials and the note Belgium 1915. The same advert appeared in the rival Illustrated London News on March 13, 1915 but had the added caption:

"This advertisement is of particular interest, it being the work of an Officer in charge of a Machine Gun at the Front. He writes that:- 'my pencil sketch was actually drawn in the trenches and the idea was an inspiration which occurred to me when I was endeavouring to be cheerful whilst reclining in six inches of mud and water at the bottom of my dug-out'."

Another cartoon by the same artist proclaims “A good point to remember”, as a smiling Tommy points his rifle and bayonet at a rotund German soldier. Below the company name appears the following statement: “The Officer at the Front, from whom this drawing has been received, writes: - ‘it is done as well as possible under the difficulties of the situation. The details of the ‘Hun” were obtained by close inspection on Xmas day,” an allusion to the infamous Christmas Day armistice of December 1914, when soldiers from both sides fraternized in No Man’s Land until order back by their officers.

The artist was himself one of the participants in this event, but was wounded shortly after and was invalided back to England. The Beecham Company took advantage in his change of fortunes to have him draw another humorous scene, this one set in a hospital as a nurse takes the smiling patient’s pulse and temperature under the heading “To keep your spirits Up & your temperature Down.” The cartoon ends with a similar statement to the previous one: “The Officer, whose previous designs were drawn while at the front, is now home, and writes: - ‘I have just emerged from Hospital, having been docked for repairs owing to being knocked out by a ‘Jack Johnson’ [hand-grenade] at Ypres. I am now strong enough to wield a pen again, although I have not quite regained full control of my hands.” Using sketches by the ever-popular Bairnsfather was guaranteed to bring attention to the product.

The Enemy
ClincherTyres_No100. jpg (90175 bytes)Bairnsfather’s corpulent German was one of several manifestations of the enemy or references to Germany. One attempt to persuade Britons to buy British-made tires was issued by The North British Rubber Company if Edinburgh, Scotland, makers of Clincher Motor Tyres in mid-1916. While three full-faced Germans wearing their distinctive and threatening picklehaube helmets, laugh, the ad suggests that the Huns must be smiling because British motorists are buying imported American tires costing 4 million pounds a year “when all the time there are plenty of better and British made, like Clincher motor tyres to meet all requirements.” Beecham’s comforted their readers by stating that, “In these days of trial, two good things there be – bullets for the Boches, Beecham’s Pills for me.” Later, the company included a depiction of a German soldier wearing the flat cap, seated on a wooden crate bearing the label ‘St. Helens.’ He expression towards the viewer is one of disdain as a highland soldier offers the prisoner a pill, exhorting him that “if you are liverish take Beecham’s Pills.” The prisoner’s distinctive leitmotiv - the picklehaube helmet - hangs from the highlander’s back pack as a trophy.

A satirical representation of Militarism in the guise of a fiendish figure wearing the now familiar spiked helmet, with shells and bayonets for arms and fingers, is being bayoneted and sword-whipped by soldiers from Belgium, France, Britain, and Russia, in the Johnnie Walker War Cartoon No. 4 that appeared on November 28, 1914. Johnnie Walker, himself is the artist seen drawing this cartoon, while below the sketch are two stanzas from a poem by Robert Burns making reference to traitors, cowards, slaves, usurpers and tyrants. The reader is reminded that “recruiting, like Johnnie Walker, is still going strong.”

DeReszke.jpg (90175 bytes)Cigarette advertisements abound. The cigarette culture was all-pervasive as it would be in the Second World War. The coupling with women in advertisements is also significant. Cigarettes were the gift of choice. They were relatively cheap and boxes could easily be mailed to the front. Not surprising therefore are the numerous advertisements for tobacco products.

The makers of De Reszke, ‘the Aristocrat Cigarettes’ proudly proclaimed in their ad of September 5, 1914, that "we recently received an order for 50,000 ‘De Reszke” Cigarettes to be supplied to the Officers’ Mess of H.M.S. “Lancaster.&rdquo At the head of a gang plank, an officer bids farewell to his lady as she slips another box of cigarettes under his arm. By the lady’s feet, Cupid wipes the tears, having placed his bow on the quay. John Player and Sons, makers of Players Navy Cut naturally played-up the connection with the senior service with vignettes of naval ships or recent heroes. F. & J. Smith, a branch of the Imperial Tobacco Company, used a series of individual soldiers, all smoking their product, Smith’s Glasgow Mixture.

Cavenders184.jpg (90175 bytes)An appeal to women is a common motif in the wartime advertisements. They formed the largest percentage of population on the home front, they were experiencing new levels of independence and liberalizing power, and were also making a major contribution to the war effort. By recognizing these factors and employing them in commercial promotions, companies could expect a positive response. More and more women were working on the farmsand in the factories to fill the slack left by men at the front. Yet, their feminism was important. We see this juxtaposition in an ad for Royal Vinolia Cream. One young women holding a pitchfork looks at the hands of another, while below is the four-line stanza:
      Farm “hands” and fine hands,
      Bravery and beauty;
      Hard at work on all hands,
      At the call of duty.
Pears Limited ran a series entitled ‘Womanhood in War-Time’, and in the first example, ‘My Lady of Munitions’, a young munitions worker ‘places her complexion and her hands in charge of Pears whilst she so nobly helps the nation “carry on”…The mottoof the “girl behind the gun” is “Carry on” using Pears’ Soap’.

In others, we see proud, modern, sophisticated, liberated and well-dressed young women. A colorful art deco series drawn by Will Owen appeared in 1918 advertising Cavenders’ Army Club Cigarettes. In February, we see an elegantly-attired lady escorted by a rather jovial looking officer. She asks: “Tell me, what do you boys call a ‘wash-out?’ He: ‘My dear! A place where you can’t get ‘Army Club Cigarettes.” Early in June, we see a bright young women conversing with an American officer wearing a cape, while later in the month of the, 29th, we meet Gertie and Bertie, she a striking women holding a parasol, he, an invalid with bandaged head. Gertie states that she really believes that “you boys would smoke ‘Army Club’ Cigarettes if you were dying.” “You bet we would, dear old thing – and save our bally lives.” We meet Gertie and Bertie again on July 27, he in rather oversize breeches, she in the latest fashion:
      Gertie: “You priceless old thing – how did you get Dad to say ‘Yes’?”
      Bertie: “Strategy my petlet! Commandeered his reserves so the dear old boy found
      himself without an ‘Army Club’ and had to accept my peace terms; I take you and he gets back his lost legions.”

Finally, in September, Owen introduces us to a member of the newly-formed Royal Air Force by the name of Archie whose lady friend is Dolly. And for the first time, we see a women smoking a cigarette.

Burberry.jpg (90175 bytes)Fashions and Clothing
Clothing companies such as Burberrys of Haymarket saw an opportunity of promoting service dress, often in light of the inadequate clothing that had been issued. The war spawned a variety of men’s clothing inspired by military uniforms, and significant companies such as Burberry made a strong showing with its line of trench coats and other war-inspired outer garments. They offered a trench outfit, cap-cover and cape, gabardine shorts and gloves, and trench boots. Another product of the company was the Tielocken Burberry, a military-style trench-coat that had no buttons except for the collar, and was securely held by a belt. A further weatherproof coat that was promoted by the company was the Burfron: “Every officer should see The Burfron before making new provision against wet. A smart top-coat that defies the weather in its wildest moods.”

Tootal cotton fabrics used the theme of responsibility to promote its products in one advertisement that appeared in September 1916, and as a symbol, a picture of a naval commander who may be Admiral Jellicoe, the hero of Jutland appears above the text. ‘Responsibility is the legal and moral obligation to redeem a promise or a trust imposed’.

Wrights_SoapNo45.jpg (90175 bytes)Soap advertisements were a common feature in a war that was notable for its dirt, mud, and lice, and many companies vied for business by using patriotic and war themes to push their products. Soap was a valued commodity at the front and ads for such played on this. We see two soldiers by a stream washing their faces but yearning for a “cake of ‘Pears’ now.” The A. & F. Pears company states in several of their ads that a popular password at the front was “Pass Pears and All’s Well.” Their product was “just the soap for the hurried wash that is often all the boys can get.” In one such spread of June 26, 1915, a soldier has just opened his package from home to find a bar of Pears’ soap. As the mail men pass by in the trench, a soldier in the dug-out beseeches his comrade to pass the soap. In another advert, this one for Wright’s Coal Tar Soap, soldiers in a tented encampment look on with envy as one of their comrades washes in a basin with a bar of soap. “Lucky beggar! – they’ve sent him some,” they exclaim. In another ad, we read a letter to “Susie” from “Bob” thanking her for the good things she sent especially the Wright’s. “It’s grand stuff that makes you feel absolutely fit. Tell all the other girls to send some, we shall soon use this.” A smiling soldier in another promotion for the soap holds up a towel and asks, “I have a fine towel – will some nice person send along a box of Wright’s coal tar soap.”

Foods and Beverage
Foods that fortify against the cold and damp of the Western Front were trumpeted in many advertisements. Such popular beverages of the period naturally were in demand at the front, and companies were only too happy to oblige and make known the fact in their advertisements. Bovril_No84.jpg (90175 bytes)Oxo, Bovril and Horlicks all made their pitch. In one full-page color spread for Bovril meat stock published on March 11, 1916, at the height of the recruiting drive for Britain’s new army, we see a large bull outside a recruiting tent. The Bull informs the recruiting officers: “My place is at the front – ‘I hear they want more Bovril.” “British to the backbone.” The company also sponsored the Bovril Munition Poster which depicted a muscular man holding a large hammer while drinking a cup of Bovril. The poster was incorporated into a full-page ad on October 28, 1916 entitled “A Munition worker and Bovril,” and included a letter and photograph of such a worker.

Large advertisements for Oxo proudly proclaimed the value of the product “to all branches of His Majesty’s Forces.” “Oxo exactly meets their needs. It takes little space; it is easily carried and can be converted quickly into a hot nourishing drink, which, with bread or biscuit, will sustain for hours.” Such statements were usually accompanied by a picture of a soldier writing home asking for Oxo, or scenes from the front, usually coupled with several testimonials from servicemen attesting to the power of the product. One such example from a London Territorial was taken from the Daily Express of June 9th, 1915:
      At dark we moved off to another wood, where we slept for the night – thin woods
      without cover and, of course, it rained that night! Gee! We would have welcomed
      our old barn then. However, we kept the cold out by heating some OXO in a mug
      over three candles.”
Another soldier lost in No-Man’s Land for a week, subsisted on nothing more than Oxo tablets according to another testimonial.

The chewable tablet came into its own as a form of nourishment. Not always able to heat up water, such tablets were a welcome commodity. Horlicks created malted milk tablets. Dissolving 10 to 20 tablets in the mouth could supply the nourishment given by an ordinary meal “and they quickly restore energy and vitality.” One ad for the product showed two medical orderlies standing by their ambulance consuming the tablets. Gong Soups, also made by Oxo Limited, and available in tablet form were championed as providing warmth and nourishment at sea or at the front. Also in packet form, the soup came in twelve varieties including Mock Turtle, Ox Tail and Artichoke. “A parcel from home with something to eat in it is the soldier’s delight. At this time of the year Gong Soups are the very thing to send.”

While tea was available in vast quantities, milk was is very short supply, so cans of Nestlé’s milk were popular as gifts. In many of the company’s ads, the same cry went up: “I’m doing my bit, save me from milkless tea.” A soldier’s letter was frequently quoted: “Milk is our greatest luxury.” In a similar way, companies advertised their products to improve the daily rations at the front. As Lea & Perrins stated, “Yours soldier friends will appreciate the gift of a few bottles of Lea & Perrins’ Sauce to use with their War Rations. It makes Bully Beef appetizing and when mixed with jam is an excellent substitute for chutnee.” For 5 shillings, one dozen bottles of the sauce would be “securely packed direct to any member of the expeditionary Force on the Western Front.”

Imperial Allies
Beechams_No139. jpg (90175 bytes) The contribution of the empire was not lost on advertisers. In the Johnnie Walker War Cartoon No 7 of December 12, 1914. Johnnie draws a scene of a Scotsman, New Zealander, Australian, Canadian, and an Indian charging across a battlefield strewn with debris including a picklehaube of the German 57th Regiment. Leo Chenes’ cartoon ends with the statement: “Guaranteed same quality throughout the world.” John Walker & Sons frequently employed this theme in their whiskey advertisements. In one, we see Johnnie welcoming a New Zealander. “Do you know me?” he asks. “Do I know you! Why I know you as well as the Waganui.” We see Johnnie Walker marching with an officer in Egyptian service, chatting with a Canadian in a trench. “Cheer ‘o I’ve found my Beecham’s Pills,” happily proclaims an Australian soldier, his hand emerging from his kit bad holding the precious tin of tablets.
Scotland and Ireland were often viewed in the same light by many English, the latter sometime in highly suspicious ways particularly as many Irish nationalists openly declared their support for Germany. In one advertisement for the Irish soap-maker, McClinton’s, on September 19, 1914, readers were asked why they should support Irish industries:
      "Ireland stands shoulder to shoulder with Great Britain, ready and willing to bear her full share of the hardships of the       war. It is hoped,therefore, that, in the right and natural determination of all Britons to patronise only British products,       the industries upon which the welfare of the Irish depends will not be overlooked.”

The highlander was a popular motif and kilted soldiers appear in a number of adverts, especially for Beecham’s Pills. We see the Scotsman offering a French Poilu a Beecham’s Pill using his broken English, “Esker vus avvey?” Later, a highlander with his kilt caught in barbed wire states: “I’d rather lose m’kilt than lose m’Beecham’s Pills.” In another, Private 2200 Macgregor has misplaced his Beecham’s Pills having emptied out the contents of his kit bag. “Missing” read the title. Smith’s Glasgow Mixture printed a drawing and letter from Piper Laidlaw who won the Victoria Cross at the battle of Loos in 1915, claiming to have smoked some of the tobacco prior to the battle. Another highlander advises a comrade wearing a peculiar gas mask: “Don’t gas Take Beecham’s Pills.”

Word Play
Sanitas_No68.jpg (90175 bytes)Several advertisements employ clever plays on words and the use of phrases from the front. One for McClinton’s Shaving Soap and Cream was headed “Do your Damnedest! To give your boys some of the amenities of life amid their present discomforts,” which was a direct quote from the commander of the Tank Corps as it rolled off towards Cambrai during the famous tank battle of 1917: “England expects every Tank this day to do it Damnedest.” A cartoon of the commander atop his tank being disturbed whist shaving accompanied the advertisement. Beecham’s Pills included a submarine coning tower bearing the identifying name “U2” followed by the caption “should use Beecham’s Pills. The same company used a bi-plane in the air in the rough shape of the letter ‘F’ and add ‘LY’ at the side, to read “You will soon [F]ly the benefits of Beecham’s Pills.” Gibbs’s Cold Cream Shaving Soap used the name of the 1916 battle of the Somme in one of their adds: “Somme shave. It is really “some” soap, this Gibbs’s.”

The play on the word Germany was inevitable. An advertisement for Sanitas Disinfecting Flued displayed a soldier seated on top of the world cheering with a bottle of Sanitas hanging at his side. The caption read: “Let us reason it out together! Did any one say there was a GERMany-where?”
“Defence against Air Attacks,” the title of an advertisement for Royal Vinolia Cream, depicted a naval officer standing in front of an anti-aircraft gun saluting a young lady, the idea being that the cream was the best “defence of the complexion against air attacks in the shape of cold winds and inclement weather.”

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Pears_SoapNo43.jpg (24178 bytes) Beechams.jpg (25124 bytes) JohnWalker_No17.jpg (21471 bytes) Horlicks_No75.jpg (23095 bytes) Dunlop_No89.jpg (23095 bytes) GreysCigarettes_No217.jpg (23095 bytes) Cavenders_No216.jpg (23095 bytes) RoyalVinolia_No94.jpg (23095 bytes)

Exhibition Information
July 2-September 28, 2007
John Hay Library, Brown University
Curated by Peter Harrington