Anchor Line and advertising

Anchor Line and advertising

Natalie Milne

(First published in Dunaskin News, February 2003)

An example of Anchor Line's advertising posters entitled "Anchor Line Glasgow-New York", 1930. (GUAS Ref: UGD 255/1/40/22. Copyright reserved.) The term “business records” does not immediately engender enthusiasm in many people. It is often assumed that the records of a business goes hand in hand with facts and figures. Company records can often be seen as being bogged down by business jargon or technical terms which are relevant only to the business historian, understood only by the experts. The records of a shipping company can therefore raise even greater negative knee-jerk responses because of the technical information that can be held in such collections.  However, the Anchor Line collection (GUAS Ref: UGD 255) is a business collection which illustrates the unexpected potential of a company’s records and which can appeal to the everyday user due to its immediacy of impact when viewing the promotional side of the company.

The Anchor Line collection held at GUAS is vast, consisting of the typical type of business record such as board papers, shareholding records, plans and fleet particulars. However, as a liner company, which had a sideline in cruises for a few years during the depression, we have a very valuable resource in the collection of the company’s promotional and advertising material.  This material which includes advertising boards, posters, Christmas cards, brochures and leaflets is very “immediate”. The visual images of this collection can instantly grasp the user as a consequence of its universal pictorial appeal. This promotional material is valuable for a variety of reasons: as a history of graphic art, a history of advertising, a history of the company and a reflection of contemporary society.

The illustrations generally speak for themselves and communicate clearly and forcefully the image which the company wished to promote. They appealed to the senses by reinforcing national stereotypes, using images of wistful figures in national costume against dramatic breathtaking landscapes.  The company particularly emphasised the awesome power of the Anchor Line sailing vessels, which over-shadowed all the other ships at sea, with its sheer size and opulence racing through the choppy waves to transport the passengers with the greatest speed and comfort.

They also needed to appeal to the middle and upper classes at whom the cruises were aimed. They did this by promoting the social element of cruising, picturing the upper-classes enjoying their leisure - mixing with like minded people aboard the ship.  The destinations of the cruises were obviously exotic and extravagant, particularly lavish during the depression, available only to the wealthy. Therefore the illustrations needed to inform its potential clientele of the “never to be repeated sights” which they were likely to see in these distant countries.  As you can tell the Anchor Line collection is a highly interesting and informative collection and is well worth a visit to Thurso Street.

Please go to the poster gallery featuring a selection of Anchor Line advertising posters.