The promotional strategies that companies adopt during wartime can be both interesting to view and potentially embarrassing to companies in retrospect. I recently purchased a small collection of full page promotional ads that Kodak published during and perhaps immediately following WW II. These appeared in a large folio format journal, anonymous because it included no page headers or footers, and I have only single pages. From the verso sides of the Kodak pages, the journal appears to have had an industrial bent.

The Kodak ads are written to characterize the Company's contribution to the war effort and to "human progress." They often refer to Kodak's research and at another time, the messages might have concluded that Kodak's superior design could help you save precious visual memories or make your business more profitable. Here the ads are written as a mix of competitive goals and achievements blended with nationalism that today might only be heard from the Pentagon. Most of the ads contain a vignet promoting the sale of War Bonds of the following sort:

REMEMBER THE MARINE CAPTAIN who led his platoon of amphibious tractors onto the beach in the first wave on Tarawa?, after all his men were killed, he pushed on and single-handed wiped out a Jap machine-gun position before he was fatally wounded?, in his last letter home, he had written "The marines have a way of making you afraid--not of dying, but of not doing your job"? A stern example to us at home. BUY MORE WAR BONDS.

Another ad that toutes the effectiveness of Kodak optics in fire control systems and bombsights claims that "Kodak optical systems for fire control destroy the legend of 'German supremacy' in lens making." These German lenses were the same ones that Kodak had been mounting on its premium cameras five years earlier with claims that they were superior. And Kodak had added the Nagel-werke as a Kodak German division in the early 1930s and had introduced its German-designed and manufactured Retina as the first Kodak 35mm camera.

In general these ads are careful creations that report Kodak technical and optical achievement that had been the focus of Company plans for a decade. Kodak's bread was buttered on both the American and German sides. The writers of these ads and undoubtedly upper Kodak management give a single point of view, leading us to wonder what Kodak ads in German publications looked like in 1942.

The ads do report on interesting developments at Kodak that are relevent to products described in this site. They often directly state or imply that these same technologies are find their way into consumer products and these wartime ads are clearly anticipating an effect on postwar markets.

  Index to local WWII Kodak promotional ads:  
ON TARGET  Kodak optical systems for fire control destroy the legend of "German supremacy" in lens making
  OPTICAL SCIENCE reaches new heights at Kodak  
  Quality Control had a long head start at Kodak Camera Works  
  The Navy Commissioned Kodak Medalist "as is"  
  Kodak's aerial lens, made with new rare-element glass,--"first basic discvoery in 55 years"  
  Because photography can condense... (possibly postwar)  
  Because photography can authenticates... (possibly postwar)  
  KEY TO SECRET WEAPONS ... a movie camera __ Ciné-Kodak__which stretches split-seconds into minutes  


06/08/2008 7:44