Category Archives: Visual Propaganda

Airmen, Fly Girls and Shark teeth

noseart ran

Going beyond simple lettering and pictures, airplane nose art was a form of power, good luck, ownership and a blushing reminder of home for the crews.  

The practice of embellishing personalized insignias and decorations on military fighter aircraft was said to have originated with Italian and German pilots with the first recorded piece of nose art being a sea monster painted on the nose of an Italian flying boat in 1913. The idea must have taken on because around that time, the Swedish pioneering aviator, “the flying Baron” Carl Cederström purchased a Donnet-Lévêque sea-biplane for his flying school, Scandinavian Aviatik AB and similarly applied a fish-scaled motif to the craft. Cederström named it “Flygfisken” (Flying Fish).

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Audrey Hepburn advertises Galaxy chocolate bars, 20 years after her death.

Audrey Hepburn has come back to life to flog chocolate. She’s not the first posthumous saleswoman, reports Simon Usborne.

Simon Usborne of The Independent writes “A fictional, yellow celebrity perhaps best summed up the weird lot of the famous dead person. “You  celebrities need to realise that the public owns you for life,” Homer Simpson said. “And after you’re dead, you’ll all be in commercials dancing with vacuum cleaners.”

Simpson was referring to Fred Astaire (d.1987) whose controversial, computer-assisted number with a Dirt Devil in 1997 was authorised by his widow but led his daughter to say she was “saddened that after his wonderful career he was sold to the devil”.

Now Audrey Hepburn has become the latest face to be disinterred for promotional purposes, returning to the screen 20 years after her death to advertise a chocolate bar.

A minute-long spot for Galaxy entitled “Choose Silk Chauffeur”, revealed during ITV1’s Mr Selfridge, places a young Hepburn on a bus in traffic on the Amalfi Coast in the 1950s. A Galaxy bar tempts her from her handbag. She makes eyes with a hot man in an open-top, swiftly swapping vehicles before tucking in as they speed away.

This time, Hepburn’s sons, who control her estate, authorised the use of her image,  for which they will have received a fee. Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti say their mother would be “proud” of her new role, adding in a press release that she “often spoke about her love of chocolate and how it lifted her spirit”.

Galaxy Chocolate, a Mars Chocolate brand, teamed up with ad agency AMV BBDO and production company Framestore, to recreate Hepburn in their newest  and impressive commercial. Set on Italy’s Amalfi Coast; circa 1950’s, we find the  beauty stuck in a bus and desirous of her chocolate. According to Framestore, the production process was arduous and included discovering a Hepburn double, and utilising VFX techniques to form a Computer-Generated Audrey.

Commented Flavia Barbat, Branding Magazine: “The icon’s eyes and smile are said to have been most difficult and, although the Framestore team hoped to utilize real eyes (for which the actress’s similarities were cast), they ended up rebuilding all of Hepburn’s face.”

As for the smile, CG VFX Supervisor, Simon French, states:

“It is amazing how unique and recognizable a person’s smile is. When you see it in this detail, it really needs to look perfect.”

Remarkable execution aside, I am wondering if the visual effects of the commercial will overshadow Galaxy’s branding purposes. Although the aesthetic success of the commercial will bring it all of the publicity it requires, I hope that viewers are capable of comprehending the interaction between the chocolate brand and Hepburn’s legacy. Hepburn is of a Golden Age, a time period that oozes sensuality and luxury, while chocolate consumption is trademarked with parallel descriptors. Beneath the fantastic spectacle of the commercial lies a powerful and well-developed partnership between the one-of-a-kind beauty and Galaxy’s promoted rich, rare taste. After all, the video concludes with the question: Why have cotton when you can have silk?”

For today’s Millenial generation, too young to know her work, seeing a posthumous gamine Hepburn might indeed renew a love of a screen icon of the past. But what’s next after chocolates? Washing detergents… vacuum cleaners?

A more morbid question is raised when Usborne asks, “As the words of the younger Astaire show, the image rights and posthumous  fortunes of the departed can lay legal and ethical minefields for brands, and raise the morbid question: who owns dead people?”

When there’s money to be made, may the dead never rest in peace.


The Pacific – Intro | Opening Credits | Director’s Cut

Directed by Steve Fuller who commented that this was the animatic that got his design company the HBO job.


Visual Identity: History of the British Army Uniform – Redcoats

Of redcoats, mad dogs and Englishmen…

Scots Guards, Battle of Alma, Crimea 1854

The British Army of early times was a well funded, trained and equipped military force. Attired in sharp looking uniforms considered impracticable by today’s standards; the army had a history spanning over 350 years and was involved in numerous European, colonial conflicts and world wars.

The army played an important part in shaping Britain’s history and helped established the former British Empire.

Storming of Badajoz by the 88th Regiment of Foot. Picture by Chris Collingwood.

The Infantry army of the British Army, may be said to be exceptional in two ways.

Firstly, despite the economic stringency resulting in amalgamations of regiments, changing methods of warfare and the reduction of British power in the world, the infantry has survived essentially for a good three centuries which in turn has given it much of its moral strength and prestige.

Secondly, the British infantry has a long history of experience in campaigning in more parts of the world than any other infantry of any other country. From the Americans, Burmese, Chinese to the Zulus, indeed, from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ the British infantry has fought them all.

The most salient, indeed the most visual feature of the uniform of the British infantryman has always been his scarlet or red coat.

The prominent military writer and researcher, Michael Barthorp professes that even though “there have been exceptions to this, and in our more utilitarian age duller colours predominate, but even today it can still be observed in the full dress of the Foot Guards and, occasionally, on drummers and bandsmen at ceremonial marches.

This fine, martial colour has been worn by other elements of the British army, and indeed by some other armies, but its visual effect on enemies and allies alike has generally been to signify the presence of the British Infantry.

Before Ramillies, Louis XIV exhorted Marshal Villeroi ‘to have particular attention to that part of the line which will endure the first shock of the English troops’. When Villeroi observed the red ranks massing against his left, he reinforced according from his centre – with subsequent catastrophe for himself.

Nearly 180 years later, at Ginniss in the Sudan, the infantry were ordered to resume their red uniforms, the better to overawe the Dervishes; this was the last occasion when red was worn in action.”


Carrier bags in Singapore, 1950s-’80s

Caught this at the National Museum of Singapore, more than just paper, glue and string… this was a virtual trip down memory lane of ‘cheena’ looking letter-press printed paperbags with their red and white twine carrier handles.

But whether paper or plastic, we certainly were no strangers to carrier bags; it was a common form of ‘convenient’ packaging and an alternative to the rattan basket.

The exhibition showcases 60 paper and plastic bags in the National Museum’s collection.

Together with contextual photos, the display highlights different uses of the ubiquitous carrier bag; its role as a mobile advertisement, and also shed light on the paper bag business in Singapore – a much forgotten trade that is still surviving today.

It runs from 19 December 2009 to 18 April 2010.

Museum exhibition panel - darn cool design

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British Propaganda Posters of World War 2

By Mattias Indy Pettersson

The influence of propaganda posters cannot be denied, neither in the political sphere, nor in the world of art.

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, one of the largest and most popular parades in the United States, is a true New York experience that is magical for both children and adults. An annual parade presented by the departmental store Macy’s; the three-hour event is held in The Big Apple, New York City.

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© nj.com

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Vibrant Chinese Propaganda Art – Part 2: Seven Intense Years

by Lars Hasvoll Bakke, CreStock

From the seven years between 1969-76, we are left with a vast heritage of marvelous propaganda material. In the second part of this series, we take a look at more carefully selected posters from that period.

In part 1, we finished off with a poster ordering the red guards of the cultural revolution to disperse into the countryside, or in other words, breaking them up to avoid turning the cultural revolution into a civil war. Mao was central in launching that revolution, and would be central in ending it, backed by the People’s Liberation Army, which was fed up with teenagers looting their armories.

With the demise of the red guards, the cultural revolution proper came to an end. While Mao remained in power, there were still people trying to climb the party ladders, either to gain supreme power themselves, or to get in line ahead of Mao’s eventual death. The power struggles in the Communist party thus carried on until a bit after Mao’s death in 1976.

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1969 – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong thought

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Vibrant Chinese Propaganda Art – Part 1: Revolution, Revolution, Revolution

by Lars Hasvoll Bakke, Cre:Stock

Chinese propaganda is like a fabulously bold and colourful history lesson, the kind of history lesson anyone with decent colour vision can appreciate. Look inside and feast your eyes on this first part of a series!

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German Propaganda Posters

by Lars Hasvoll Bakke, Cre:Source

Germany had been the cradle of many of the wacky avant-garde art movements that appeared around the turn of the century, and most importantly when it comes to posters, it was the birth-place of “Plakatstil”.

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Visual Propaganda – WW2 German Military Awards & Decorations


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Propaganda, a medium effectively used by the Nazis, was extremely important to the course of World War 2.

By taking control of the media and only printing or broadcasting Nazi material, the Third Reich was able to effectively flood Germany with its propaganda.

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