History Reviewer

Campaign: The 100 best posters of the century, 1999

A really fascinating book which considers, as the title says, the 100 best posters of the twentieth century. BUT, who decides what can be considered the ‘best’. The decisions were made by a wide range of people working for some of the most prolific current British advertising agencies.

Apparently a lot of time was required to produce a list of the ‘100 best’, but of particular interest to me, studying for a PhD in British WW2 posters, are the 5 posters from that period which are chosen, by Abram Games, who worked for the War Office. Also of interest was the fact that the First World War poster, Kitchener’s ‘Your Country Needs You‘, which is so well remembered, and has been so much imitated, at number 2!

When I first received this book, my friends and I spent an enjoyable time looking at those we remembered, and considering the reasoning behind which some of them had been picked. A very good spread of posters from the entire century, which considering the time it was written, does not focus too much upon the recent campaigns to the detriment of past campaigns. A few more historical comments would have been interesting, but that was not really the remit of this work!

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Kitchener: Your Country Needs You

Your Country Needs You (Kitchener)

Before ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ became famous, whenever I mentioned to people that I was studying World War Two posters for my PhD, the most frequent responses was “ah-ha, your country needs you!”, to which I would reply, well, yes, “right idea, wrong war”! The image, however, IS iconic, mentioned as Number 1 of the ‘100 Best Posters of the Century” in the 1990s, and did influence a number of Second World War campaigns, especially of the “Do you really need to x?” variety.

Country of Origin United Kingdom
Date 1914-1916
Artist Alfred Leete
Printer Victoria House Printing Co. Ltd., London
Size 29 1/2″ x 20″
Sources Unknown
Other Information. One of several variations of this poster. Please contact the IWM with queries about the copyright/reproduction of this poster.

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