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Shell Advertising Art Collection
Shell Heritage:

Shell has always enjoyed a rich motor sport heritage, dating back to the 1930s when the great Enzo Ferrari set up his first race team. Indeed, the 60 year association with Ferrari was celebrated in 2007.

It was during the early 1930s that Shell’s innovative approach to their advertising campaigns, by commissioning artists and giving them enormous freedom, paved the way to the expression of the spirit of Shell. The individualistic and quirky styles of the artists employed conjured up that charming and innocent period of motoring history, in a uniquely English manner.

The rise of the motor car was meteoric, from 140,000 in 1914, to almost a million ten years later, with Shell, in the guise of Shell-Mex Ltd, playing a substantial part in keeping the privately owned car on the road from the earliest days of the advent of the Motorist.

The endorsement of Shell’s miracle motor spirit as the ‘spirit of the age’ was instantly recognizable by the square red can in which it was stored and sold. The advertising of this period captures the excitement of the moment and managed to convey Shell’s miracle motor spirit as being responsible for innumerable triumphs, in no small part, due to its quality.

As a company Shell recognized that its corporate persona should reflect the rapid pace of change of the era. The car became a symbol of escape for the burgeoning population of motorist and no longer an exclusive luxury of the wealthy.

Now revered as one of the most innovative advertising campaigns of all time, the success of Shell’s unique voice ran slogans that spanned almost a decade and by its complete contrast to the mood of the Country, served to bring some levity and relief by casting a swathe of light through the deep economic recession that had plunged Britain into the gloom.

The dawn of motoring for pleasure and enjoyment, coupled with feats of speed and endurance achievements, was promoted by association, throughout the company’s advertising campaign. Shell’s light-hearted approach, the wit and vision of the campaign delighted the public through an original and effective exploitation of the circumstances of the time.