although it shrank in volume. U p to the beginning of the war, despite the uncertainties of the European situation, press advertising had been alive with ideas, and the hoardings were adorned with attractive and well-designed posters and every where pessimistic forebodings were countered with an optimism that was neither shallow nor stupid. It was akin to the sane, sensible optimism displayed by the Prime Minister when, at the beginning of August 1939, he advised people to take their usual summer holidays. British democracy so hated the thought of war that in the years immediately preceding 1939, commercial propaganda was attuned to the deep desire of the public that the world should remain normal, and that people should be allowed to conduct their business quietly and in peace. So advertisements, posters and printed material, booklets, leaflets and so forth, worked as a vast persuasive team, extolling the merits of the goods and services that made life healthier and easier, gayer and generally more agreeable. As a true democracy we were, quite rightly, putting butter before guns. What happens to commercial propaganda when guns are put before butter That question was answered by the condition of advertising in Germany before the war began. GERMAN BUSINESS MODESTY After Munich, I wanted to see how that crisis had been presented to the German people so in October 1938 I visited Germany and spent some time in Berlin, Cologne and Munich. My observa tions on the character and ramifications of the propaganda addressed to the German people and to foreign visitors like myself, are set forth in my book Word Warfare,4 The following paragraphs are quoted from Chapter Ten In the shops of Berlin, Munich and Cologne, and smaller cities like Bonn, you can still see traces of that genius for the display of goods in windows and showrooms that used to distinguish Germany butthey are only traces. Generally speaking, standards of display have fallen far below those established ten years ago. Windows are overcrowded the actual design of articles for salethings of glass and metal, fabrics and leather goodslacks all sense of style. Every thing arty and crafty which was popular in the dear dim nineteen-twenties, when the world had been made safe for democracy, is now staging a come-back in Germany. It is part of the flight from functionalism and a hand-made tomb for the modern movement has been prepared. This arty-crafty revivalwhich is part of the Nazi educational scheme that works through form and colour just as logically as it does through the printing-press and the radio setis laying heavy hands upon the shape of all things. Furniture has lost any suggestion of lightness and gaiety chairs, tables, sideboards and dressers are putting on flesh. The cabinet-maker seems to be trying to get back to the adze, and to derive his inspiration from the butcher's shop. In Berlin during October 1938 there was a Health and Hygiene exhibition, and all the old German brilliance in the devising of display material was apparent in the great hall of the exhibition but the details of each display did not bear examination. The conceptions were excellentinventive, and insistent upon rubbing in the perfectly obvious. But the lettering used, the way the individual displays were set out, the poverty of the symbolism, showed how far Germany has lost all claim to leadership in such matters. Because of the deliberate imposition of traditional forms in everything and the passion for realismgood, understandable, picture post card realismdesign is not even marking time it is marching back In that Health and Hygiene Exhibition, a section was devoted to illustrating the importance of keeping normal. The note running through it was don't get the wind up needlessly. It even advised people not to be too alarmed by what they read in newspapers but the final admon ition was superimposed upon a collection of press advertisements, chiefly for patent medicines. It said Because an advertisement praises something, you needn't immediately try it on yourself.' This may perhaps indicate official jealousy of any form of commercial propaganda but there is little cause for jealousy to-day, for no commercial interests can hope to compete with the propaganda department. The National Board for Trade Publicity claims to have cleaned up some abuses, but it seems to have cleaned up inspiration as well. The character of advertising in Germany suggests that businesses have relinquished the struggle, and that they are afraid of attracting too much attention. Germany was one of the great inspirational sources for adver tisement design and typographical experiment in the twenties but the newspapers, magazines and posters have now sunk to a commonplace level, and are totally devoid of distinctionwhen they are not actively vulgar."5 "BUSINESS AS USUAL" AGAIN After the initial hesitation, that period of apprehensive waiting when the second world war began, commercial firms again adopted the Business as Usualtheme. This time it could be used without any fear that it was hampering the war effort. It could not possibly retard recruiting, because conscription had for some months been the law of the land. So nearly everybody with things to sell broke into print with Business as Usual and it acquired a fresh lease of life when heavy bombing began in London in the Autumn 10 4 Word Warfare Some Aspects of German Propaganda and English Liberty. By John Gloag (Nicholson and Watson, Ltd.) 5 Word Warfare pages 95-97.

Modern Publicity en | 1941 | | page 14