Selling Britishness

Selling Britishness

Felicity Barnes

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From the 1920s until the outbreak of the Second World War, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand filled British shop windows, newspaper columns, and cinema screens with “British to the core” Canadian apples, “British to the backbone” New Zealand lamb, and “All British” Australian butter. In remarkable yet forgotten advertising campaigns, prime ministers, touring cricketers, “lady demonstrators,” and even boxing kangaroos were pressed into service to sell more Dominion produce to British shoppers. But as they sold apples and butter, these campaigns also sold a Dominion-styled British identity.

Selling Britishness explores the role of commodity marketing in creating Britishness. Dominion settlers considered themselves British and marketed their commodities accordingly. Meanwhile, ambitious Dominion advertising agencies set up shop in London to bring British goods, like Ovaltine, back to the dominions and persuade their fellow citizens to buy British. Conventionally nationalist narratives have posited the growth of independent national identities during the interwar period, though some have suggested imperial sentiment endured. Felicity Barnes takes a new approach, arguing that far from shaking off or relying on any lasting sense of Britishness, Dominion marketing produced it. Selling Britishness shows that when constructing Britishness, advertisers employed imperial hierarchies of race, class, and gender. Consumption worked to bolster colonialism, and advertising extended imperial power into the everyday.

Drawing on extensive new archives, Selling Britishness explores a shared British identity constructed by marketers and advertisers during advertising’s golden age.

Product details

ISBN-13: 9780228010562

Number of pages: 264

Format: Paperback / softback Trade paperback (US)

Imprint: McGill-Queen's University Press

English en