You can be sure of Shell
As a child my earliest associated memory of going for petrol, was always the free gift you would get for filling up at that service station. Different companies tried to outdo one another with the presents they would bestow on you for your custom. As an early artist, I particularly remember one company giving away felt tip pens. Each colour had a name and so you were encouraged to try and get the set. I always found it so exciting, going to choose the colour (or colours, depending how much fuel you had bought) after my dad had filled the car. It was a clever way to get loyalty and repeat custom and was possibly one of my first exposure of the power of advertising and consumerism !
Shell used postcards as an early form of advertising, beginning in the early 1900s. Postcards were a quick and easy way of sending messages before telephones became a popular commodity and postal deliveries could arrive several times a day. The popularity of postcards helped Shell increase their profile in Britain, reaching everyone including the non-motorists.
The first Shell advertising poster was created in 1920. They were displayed on the side of lorries carrying fuel to customers all over the country. These adverts (or ‘Lorry Bills’ as they became known), were designed in reaction to the public outcry against roadside hoardings in the countryside.
Foreign posters too and a whole range of topics and themes, not just centered around the more obvious choices of cars and transport.
Of course there were still many classic posters produced using the more obvious themes too.
But unusually Britain’s landmarks and a campaign showing the different types of people who use Shell, became very popular.
I’m sure you’re relieved to know that Judges, Architects, Scientists and even Film Stars all use Shell.
We’re told it’s even a ‘friend to the Farmer’, giving it that ‘good for the environment angle’.
The most innovative designs were created around 1932, when Jack Beddington became responsible for the company’s advertising. Under his direction, artists were commissioned who weren’t necessarily associated with commercial art. These artists went on to become famous names in British contemporary art. Among them were people like Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Vanessa Bell, Ben Nicholson and John Piper.
There are over 7,000 posters in the Shell Art Collection, reflecting the charm and character of a nostalgic age of motoring.
Just imagine filling up here… : )
The poster (below) depicting the family all ready for their holidays, is definitely my favourite.
Which one is yours ? You can find out more about the Shell Posters by visiting the National Motor Museum website.