First World War from a marketing perspective


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The First World War wasn’t just about trench warfare and the victory at Vimy Ridge by Canadian troops — it was also about dollars and cents at home.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/06/2017 (1993 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The First World War wasn’t just about trench warfare and the victory at Vimy Ridge by Canadian troops — it was also about dollars and cents at home.

The Business of War: Canadian Businesses and the First World War is open in the Millennium Library’s fourth-floor local history room until July 31.

“We’re really excited about the (exhibit),” said Caitlin Bailey, executive director of Montreal’s Canadian Centre for the Great War and curator of the exhibit.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 'We're really excited about the exhibition,' said Caitlin Bailey, executive director of the Montreal-based Canadian Centre for the Great War, and curator of the exhibit.

The exhibit uses artifacts and panels to show the different roles of various businesses, from promoting patriotic efforts to encouraging soldiers to enlist to supporting the supply effort.

Many boxes and cans with food items inside had references to the war effort on the outside, Bailey said.

“The war effort was the Stanley Cup equivalent on the Corn Flakes box,” Bailey said. “It was encouraging people to buy by using the conflict in Europe as a marketing tool… We have a cookie tin from the Christie Brown company. You bought the cookie tin with the idea to send it overseas so the soldier had something to eat. It was a very interesting way of branding.”

Some of the companies that helped the war effort are still around, including the Hudson’s Bay Co., which shipped millions of tons of grain and meat to Europe as the official shipping agent for France and the Russian Empire, Bailey said.

HBC placed memorial plaques in some of its stores, including the one in downtown Winnipeg, to honour its 517 employees who served in the war.

Theresa Lomas, administrative co-ordinator of information and virtual services for the Winnipeg Public Library, said Millennium Library patrons appreciate the temporary exhibits that pass through it.

“These exhibits are an excellent fit for us,” Lomas said. “Customers take a look at the exhibits and nearby they will find books and materials that deal with the First World War and businesses.”

The Canadian Centre for the Great War is a registered charity and heritage organization that promotes the social history of the First World War.

It has more than 5,000 original First World War objects in its collection.

The First World War exhibit is partly funded by the federal government.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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