Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Glamorous World of Postage Metering

These Pitney Bowes ads from 1947-49 present us with a brave attempt to market a useful but unattractive device to the business executive. They offer vignettes of office life in a combination of hard-boiled prose and lively caricature as a succession of opinionated, indolent, slovenly and recalcitrant employees stand in the way of progress. The anonymous salesman is the unsung hero, combining flattery, guile and gentle persuasion in a wise-cracking office environment similar to the one Howard Hawks created in 1940 for His Girl Friday. What went largely unsaid was the human cost of office automation – it is even suggested that relieving staff of such mundane tasks would free them up for more valuable work. Not what they teach in business school. 

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