The Huns Have Got my Gramophone!
Advertisements from the Great War
Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Ladies! Learn to Drive! Your Country Needs Women Drivers!
Do you drink German water?
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, industrious companies wasted no time in seizing the commercial opportunities presented by the conflict. Without TV or radio, newspapers provided one of the few ways in which the British public could get reliable news of the war. To cater to their rising readerships, advertising emerged as the new science of sales, growing increasingly sophisticated throughout the war years in both visual presentation and psychological appeal.
The Huns Have Got my Gramophone! collects some of the most compelling and cleverly worded original advertisements created between 1914 and 1918. Many of the advertisements are aimed at women, from fearless guard dogs promising protection while husbands are away to soaps and skin creams for “beauty on duty.” Others use the power of patriotism to push new products for men, including “officers’ waterproof trench coats,” and one young officer writing in the Times attests to the coats’ superior weather resistance by boldly asserting that he’d leave his sword behind before he left his Burberry. Together, the advertisements collected in the book reveal how advertisers sought to create new markets for products that took into account social change throughout the course of the conflict.
Featuring a range of products, from clothing, cigarettes, and invalid carriages to motorcycles and portable Decca phonographs—the “ideal gramophone for active service”—the book offers a new and unexpected source of historical information and an intimate glimpse of a nation at war.