Monday, March 16, 2020

Camouflage used as film theatre entrance advertising

Theatre entrance for The Geezer of Berlin (1918), NYC
In a wartime issue of Motography (November 10, 1917, p. 975), a brief article appeared in which it was asserted by a Hollywood advertising executive that “There is absolutely no excuse…for making motion picture posters deceptive.” In the article, titled Camouflage Has No Place in Poster Making, the executive goes on to say that ”Camouflage has its uses but it does not lend itself to the theatre lobby.”

Almost a year later, this was contradicted by a full-page article in Motion Picture News (October 5, 1918, p. 2189) titled Lobby Display Gets Laughs and Pulls in Crowds to See “The Geezer of Berlin.” It describes a successful advertising ploy devised M. Kashin, theatre manager of The Broadway Theatre in New York.

In an effort to increase attendance at the showing of a propaganda film (the “geezer” in the title, of course, is Kaiser Wilhelm II), Kashin transformed the theatre entrance, as well as the inside lobby, by installing "dazzle camouflage" designs, cartoons, and humorous posters.

The “vivid colors” of the “real camouflage” on the facade, the article states, “are enough to stop anyone in their tracks,” and in turn to lead the audience to a cut-out of “Der Geezer,” as well as satirical posters about “The Clown Prince,” “Gott of Germany,” “Hindebug,” and “Turpentine.”

Reproduced above is a photograph of Kashin’s design for the entrance. In an article published elsewhere (titled Inexpensive Lobby Displays), Kashin discussed his methods for devising this and other advertising novelties. He wrote: “I have found that the lobby display, worked out to its finest detail, will bring more results than any other form of advertising…”