Jan 30 2012: Forty Electronics and Armaments Advertisements from Military Technology Magazine (1982)

Yesterday’s gallery of photographs from a small range of 1982 issues of Military Technology magazine highlighted the industrial premises, various personnel (mainly marketing, finance and management) within the companies featured, and much imagery showing the research and development processes undertaken by businesses like Plessey, Signaal and Racal, among others. In these first forty advertisements from the same magazines, we see some of the end-products of those processes taking their place on the open market: household name electronics corporations like Philips, Plessey and Siemens offer comprehensive surveillance and warning systems, while businesses less associated with parallel civilian and domestic markets specialise in everything from sonar to machine guns, tanks and missiles to anti-missile missiles and computer systems.

There’s something odd, to say the least, about seeing such blatant promotion of armaments using language familiar from other species of advertising, as when Oto Melara in Italy offer a missile system using a copyline derived from surf culture (“The Wave Rider Beyond The Horizon”), Odelft offer night vision equipment for target recognition under the heading “Beat the Dark – in Maximum Viewing Comfort” as though selling a new range of TVs, and Thyssen-Henschel offer Security2000 technology (“Brings the Winning Advantage”) using language familiar from the same historical moment’s business advertising. The two things, of course, were politically connected at this stage – with competitive dogmas and market nostrums applied to foreign and domestic policy alike from the early 1980s onwards – and they remain intimately connected now. As noted yesterday, it’s not entirely accidental that military manufacturing was protected by subsidy in the early 1980s in much the same way that financial services are protected today.

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