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“The war has turned our lives upside-down”: The Merit of Commercial Advertising in Documenting the Cultural History of the British Home Front in the Second World War

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Throughout the Second World War, the British government commissioned a number of artists to produce posters relevant to the British home front. These memorable posters have become emblems of how the people responded to the challenge of war. However, there exists a more detailed and reliable resource in the form of press advertisements by commercial organizations. Such companies placed a wide variety of advertisements throughout the war that sought to speak in the language of the people and reflect the nature of their experiences. This article explores the merits of commercial advertising as an accurate reflection of life on the home front. Based upon the premise that the practice of advertising had become advanced by the outbreak of war, it proposes that commercial advertising offers a more honest, frank and down-to-earth portrayal of everyday life in Britain between 1939 and 1945 than that displayed in propaganda posters.
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Keywords: Advertising; Home Front; Nostalgia; Propaganda; Second World War

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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