Canadian Geographic - - HISTORY -

When does one of the world’s largest and most suc­cess­ful liquor em­pires not act like it­self? When it’s Oc­to­ber 1945 and that com­pany, Sea­gram, runs ads not about whisky but about the “ra­dio-phono­graph of to­mor­row” in the Cana­dian Ge­o­graph­i­cal Jour­nal. The de­vice, which promised to “bring you com­plete nov­els, dra­mas and sym­phonies, mag­net­i­cally im­pressed on small spools of steel wire” — take that, ipods and Kin­dles! — wasn’t the real prod­uct be­ing sold, of course. Rather, the com­pany was try­ing to sell Cana­di­ans on the idea that they should hold on to the Vic­tory Bonds they’d pur­chased to help fund the war ef­fort, not cash them in and spend the money on scarce goods, which could drive up in­fla­tion. Peo­ple should use their bonds to, as the ad notes, “buy greater plea­sures and com­forts to­mor­row!” This sort of “mod­er­a­tion advertisin­g” wasn’t un­usual at the time, and the truth was that com­pa­nies such as Sea­gram didn’t have much choice in the mat­ter. In 1942 the fed­eral gov­ern­ment banned most types of in­sti­tu­tional and brand advertisin­g for beer, wine and spir­its in an ef­fort to in­crease the sup­ply of in­dus­trial al­co­hol for the pro­duc­tion of war goods. Com­pa­nies such as Sea­gram were per­mit­ted to ad­ver­tise in sup­port of the war ef­fort, but weren’t al­lowed to make di­rect ref­er­ence to their roles as pro­duc­ers of booze. — Harry Wil­son

A look back through the ar­chives as Cana­dian Ge­o­graphic turns

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