British Recruitment Posters

The first official recognition of the importance of the propaganda poster came during the recruiting campaign which began towards the close of 1914. The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee gave commissions for more than a hundred posters, of which two and a half million copies were distributed throughout the British Isles. Posters continued throughout the war to be an important medium of mass communication in a country that did not have public radio or television. The only alternative form of mass communication, the newspapers, suffered from limitations such as the inability to print in colour. Posters were able to provide the colour, power and size need to convey simple messages to a mass audience in a most powerful way.

Much of the style, imagery and graphics used in British recruitment posters was derived from the advertising industry and used an approach that was direct. Often artists sought to give their creations extra appeal through employing visual puns, turning them into an aspect of entertainment. The themes employed to encourage recruits included patriotism, nationalism, xenophobia, comradeship, revenge, a desire to protect women and loved ones, fear of being 'left behind' and of course the chance to avoid the charge of cowardice.

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