chapter  5
13 Pages

Rethinking Edwardian Advertising

The Case of Britain’s Railways
WithAlexander Medcalf

In 1911, Thomas Russell described a popular notion associated with Edwardian advertising when he declared that it was perceived as 'a haphazard, hit-or-miss sort of process'. In Edwardian Britain, the word 'advertising' meant much more than simply making a product or service known to the consuming public: it was more akin to a nascent form of 'marketing', taken as the range of processes and techniques which help to 'identify, anticipate and satisfy customer requirements' in an effort to increase business. Few official records referring to rail-based advertising from the Edwardian era have survived subsequent periods of war, corporate reorganisation, nationalisation and uncompleted microfilming projects. Famous examples of Edwardian railway advertising appeal to a nostalgia for a 'golden' age of travel. The Edwardian era witnessed hitherto unparalleled advances in visual reproduction, and advertising strategies such as those outlined naturally contributed towards this vision as some of the most pervasive visuals of the day.