Monday, December 19, 2011

Gang Sign in WWII Philco Brag Ad

Advertising during World War II could often be very strong. Ad agencies had to tread a thin line between promoting patriotism and the war effort and bald-faced braggadioco look-what-we-did promotion.

This boastful in-your-face brag ad was produced by J. Walter Thompson for the Philco Corporation. W.H. Crawford, the illustrator, used a reverse V sign as a severe insult to the enemy.

According to - the gesture was one step away from flipping the bird. The European community was familiar with the sign as it meant, "F#@? You", or "Up Yours."

According to historian Juliet Barker in her Book, Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England (2006), King Henry V included references to the french cutting off longbowman's fingers. The two-fingered salute, or "longbowman salute" was a jab at the French to show the English were still going strong.

I especially like Philco's pledge to soldiers of industry in the second paragraph, "More-Better-Sooner." Nice slogan.

Today the symbol is used my many on the web as a friendly or nice gang sign. For those who want to be cool, but not want to flash the wrong sign.

For more on the V sign and it's many meanings - visit Wiki.

Image approved for research purposes only. Part of the Duke Library Digital Collection - J. Walter Thompson Advertising Collection.