A golden era for poster advertising?

Often seen as old-fashioned, print and poster advertising is enjoying something of a renaissance. Our ad correspondent Ben Kay examines what might be driving the change

Something unexpected happened last year: advertising’s oldest medium became an advert for the entire industry by helping to bring the UK together.

Posters really stepped up, offering the country insight, beauty, information, celebration, charm, wit, warmth and elegance at a time when those things were sorely needed. (By the way, I believe something similar also happened in other countries outside of the UK, but as a resident of Los Angeles, I can tell you that the only unusual outdoor advertising I saw were billboards that stayed up for months, poignantly advertising ‘coming soon’ films that never came.)

In terms of quality, Britain was spoilt for choice: B&Q, KFC, Ikea, Apple, SHN, McDonald’s, Justice4Grenfell, Banana Scoops, PlayStation’s Oxford Circus signs, plus stunts like BBC’s Dracula and the recent Marmite Dynamite posters, which saw giant post-explosion Marmite lids embedded in cars and stuck in trees to advertise a limited-edition, chilli-flavoured Marmite.

But away from the corporations there were also spontaneous billboards having a go at making the nation feel a bit better about being cooped up at home. 

Top: Poster campaign from BBC One’s Dracula series; Above: Poster from Apple’s Behind The Mac, Made In The UK campaign

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes