Originally the third in a series of motivational posters commissioned by the government in August 1939, the popular poster featuring the slogan Keep Calm and Carry On was never run publicly, reserved for use in times of crisis.
The poster was forgotten until a rare copy was discovered in a box of second hand books by Stuart and Mary Manley of Barter Books in Northumberland. Proudly displaying the poster in their shop, they were soon inundated with requests to buy it.
Which brings us to the present. Striking a chord in our difficult times, the Keep Calm message has become ever more popular. Keep Calm and Carry On: Good Advice for Hard Times is Ebury’s collection of quotes, proverbs and wry truths, encapsulating the poster’s reassuring spirit in one little red book…
To start off the campaign, we had some very bijoux Keep Calm cakes last week, consumed to a backdrop of wartime tunes in our canteen. And today we launched Keep Calm day, to bring the Keep Calm message to London. I’m so taken with the Blitz era vibe that I’ve also hunted out some red lipstick!
We kicked off Keep Calm day bright and early this morning with a mention on GMTV of our poster at Piccadilly Circus, which proclaims Keep Calm and Carry On for the first time as a public message! The poster is now finally gracing Piccadilly Circus tube station - in fact, it has been so admired by passers-by that someone has already tried to make off with it! Lucky Katie and Clare were on hand to apply some TLC to the corner that had been craftily loosened…
Commuters at Canary Wharf and Bank tube stations have also received an injection of the Keep Calm spirit, finding themselves accosted by members of the publicity and marketing department grinning inanely at them and proffering copies of our little red book. Judging from the smiles in the pictures, they were tickled pink! The book was quick to work its magic, with frowns disappearing from faces as grey-suited city workers chuckled to themselves.
Over 4000 copies of our postcard promoting the book will go out to readers of the Evening Standard tonight, and there will be more free books handed out this evening at Piccadilly Circus so make sure you head down from 5:30pm onwards!
You can WIN a copy of this fantastic poster (huge, 60 by 40 inches!) – just leave a comment here with your Keep Calm Mantra below or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of next week (June 12th)*. Whatever the wise words are that keep you calm in times of stress, share them with us. You never know, you could end up with a very fetching piece of WWII history in your living room!
Jenny - Publicity Assistant
*UK residents only, I’m afraid!