Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A motto to resonate with generations...

I'd happily put money on the fact that half of the population probably has some sort of 'Keep Calm and Carry On' decorative adorning their home or office. Yep, these posters have seemingly sprang up out of nowhere over the past 12 months. Posters, key-rings, mugs. You name it. You can't seem to avoid it recently.

But where did it come from? And whilst we're on the subject of putting bets on, I'd back the fact that most people wouldn't know the answer to that question either.

Truth is, it was initially produced by the Ministry of Information, at the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, with the aim of strengthening the public's morale in the event of a wartime disaster.

2.5m copies of the poster were printed, but unbeknown to many, it was the third in a series of three motivational posters issued by the British government. 800,000 copies of the first poster were printed, featuring the slogan 'Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us To Victory'. The second poster issued saw 400,000 copies circulate, and this one read 'Freedom Is In Peril. Defend With All Your Might'. The first 'Your Courage..' poster was  much more popular than the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' addition during the war, mainly because it was very large and the first to go up.

The posters were put up within 24 hours of the war breaking out, as the Ministry of Information assumed the events of the first few weeks of the war would demoralise the public. The writing was designed to be recognisable and associated with the MOI, and the crown at the head of each poster signified it was a message from the King.

The 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster was rediscovered in the year 2000, in a second-hand bookshop in Northumberland. Although the poster was created by the UK government and was copyrighted under Crown Copyright, this expired after 50 years, and so the image is now in the public domain.

Since it's rediscovery it's popularity has blown up, with many people feeling it relevant to the late-2000's recession. Other unlikely places that these posters have appeared include:

  • the prime minister's strategy unit at number 10 Downing Street
  • the Lord Chamberlain's office at Buckingham Palace
  • the United States embassy in Belgium
It's also been adopted by British nurses as their unofficial motto, appearing in staff rooms and wards up and down the country.

Endless amounts of parodies have been created since the original poster was rediscovered, and iPhone and iPad apps have even been created so you can spend hours designing your own.

So whilst most will have a 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster for purposes of jumping on a rather large, extremely popular bandwagon, but whenever I look at mine I'll be reminded of the stiff-upper-lip spirit of the population, and be truly proud to be British.

No comments:

Post a Comment