The Zeppelin in combat (in advertising)

Dan Todman has an interesting series of posts at Trench Fever on how the First World War prepared the British to fight the Second - here, here and here. The last post is about a newspaper ad from 1942, and although it's only one element among several, of course it's the Zeppelin that leaps out at me (I am Airminded after all!) Apropos of nothing much, here are a few examples of Zeppelins in British advertising from the First World War period - one newspaper advertisement, and two propaganda posters.

The first actually dates from before the war - it's from The Times, 4 March 1913, p. 17. It was published during the airship panic of that year, and pokes gentle fun at the concerns about the Zeppelin menace. What people should REALLY be worried about is fire, burglary, old age ... so buy North British & Mercantile's insurance! (One wonders why they didn't offer air raid insurance ... they would have made a bundle.)

The Times, 4 March 1913

This recruiting poster would date to 1915 or 1916, as that's when the Zeppelins were most feared. Joining the Army at the time wouldn't have been the most direct way to prevent more air raids, as the Navy was actually responsible for British air defences at that time, but I suppose the suggestion is that you can be part of the Big Push that will end the war. (Image source: First World

Recruiting poster

I may be cheating slightly here: although this is mentioned on a few websites as a British poster, the National Library of Australia claims it was a New South Wales recruiting poster from 1915. But it may well have been a copy of a British poster, and anyway, we were all British back then! This time the emphasis is on preventing German frightfulness being visited upon British women and children. (Image source: National Library of Australia.)

Recruiting poster

Well, I guess these show something of the early development of the Zeppelin-as-threat iconography that Lever Brothers was (in part) drawing upon. By 1942, that iconography seems almost nostalgic, and represented the normalisation and conquest of fears of air war - the Zeppelins were just one of the challenges that Mrs Allaker and Sunlight Soap successfully faced together in the 20th century ...

OK, now I'm rambling, no doubt due to insomnia ... so I think I'll sign off!

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4 thoughts on “The Zeppelin in combat (in advertising)

  1. Steve Bacon

    You ask 'One wonders why they didn't offer air raid insurance'. They did. I have a copy of an advert from the Reading Mercury, from 1915.

  2. Post author

    Thanks, Steve. Yes, during the war they did, but I was referring to 1913, when that advertisement appeared. As far as I know, air raid insurance didn't appear until 1915. I don't know if anyone has written anything on this subject, it might be something to look into one day ...

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