In 1939 an unknown Civil Servant working for the British Government designed a poster that would not only give hope and encouragement to citizens during WWII but would go on to become one of the most recognisable and iconic images of the last 70 years.
The “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan has been adapted the world over, constantly popping up around the UK, from The London Olympics to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee street parties to bakery shop windows urging customers to “Keep Calm and Eat Some Cake”.
I even created my own version of the poster with the slogan “Keep Calm and Listen To Callaghan”!
The intention of the wartime propaganda poster was to raise the morale of the British public in the event of a Nazi invasion. And the sense that it conveys of urging communities to pull together and encourage hope still rings through.
In 2000, an original copy of the poster was discovered in Barter Books, a secondhand book shop in the North of England, by the store owners, Stuart and Mary Manley. The ubiquitous nature of the image over the last decade is largely down to the fact that they decided to start reprinting and selling posters from their shop.
Up until recently there have been no restrictions on people reproducing the “Keep Calm and Carry On” design, or creating versions of their own as it is deemed to be in the public domain.
That was until 2011 when Mark Coop of UK-based company Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd registered an EU trademark in an attempt to take ownership of the very British and newly famous image. Although his application was turned down in the UK, he is now attempting the same in the European Union, the US and Canada. If granted, this would mean his company had sole rights to reproduce this image.
Some feel that not only is this wrong due to the fact that Mark Coop did not himself design the poster, but also because it takes away the very meaning and spirit behind this piece of artwork. It was created for the public and should be left for the public to enjoy.
If you would like to object to the trademark, you can sign the petition on the campaign website here: http://keepcalmcampaign.co.uk/
Let’s try and keep “Keep Calm and Carry On” available to everyone!