Although the connection might not be obvious, this is an advertisement for chocolate, specifically for the Italian chocolate manufacturer Talmone. The advertisement is based on the myth of flying, which became very popular under Fascism. In particular, it celebrates the 1931 mass flight to South America carried out by Italo Balbo and his squad, one of the 'crociere' (cruises) organized by Balbo, which gave the Italian air force a great reputation internationally, and became incredibly successful instruments for propaganda; (see also Dudovich crociera).
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Talmone was an Italian chocolate producer founded in 1850, based in Turin. At that time, chocolate was normally sold in anonymous, hermetically sealed boxes, by groceries and confectionaries. Talmone was one of the first producers to understand the importance of advertisement, and of creating a visual brand. It started using an effective and easily recognizable image, depicting two old people consuming chocolate, both in its advertisements and on the chocolate boxes. The visual had been designed by German poster designer Ochner. During the 1920s and 1930s, Talmone, which had in the meantime merged with other companies and acquired the official name of UNICA, adopted other advertising themes, like Egypt and pyramids, and in the 1930s the theme of flying, airplanes, and the aviation propaganda.
The theme of flying was actually central to the regime and to its rhetoric of modernization and military supremacy. It was one of the areas in which the regime invested the most in its efforts to achieve the status of world power. Accordingly, a very powerful imagery about flying, modernity, and military power was stimulated and drummed into Italians by means of words, images, and spectacular demonstrations, right from the inception of the Fascist regime, as a powerful form of propaganda. According to some historians, the connection and identification between flying and fascism was so strong in the mind of Italians that for many people ‘Fascism was synonymous with flying’ (Wohl 2005, 51).
This advertisement shows how the myth of flying entered popular culture in the more unexpected spheres, like food advertising. As a totalitarian regime, Fascism aspired to achieve full control over all aspects of life of the Italian citizenship as well as their imagination – a process which we could define as a complete fascistization of life, including body and mind. As shown by this ad, companies could become part of this process, for example by drawing on the myths produced by Fascism (e.g. flying, cars, speed, sport, the motherland, masculinity, and so on) to commercialize its products. The advertisement displays a big Futurist-style aircraft in a streamlined, dynamic composition following the aircraft lines, including the writing ‘Ali d’Italia’, the name of the chocolate. Behind the big aircraft, a few smaller seaplanes and the year 1931 represent Balbo’s mass flight to South America (Balbo and his squad famously used seaplanes for the mass flights). Finally, a caravel and the year 1492 placed above it celebrate the modernity of Balbo’s mission and establishes a powerful connection with the ‘discovery of America’, also an Italian enterprise, elevating the Fascist mission to the status of a historical milestone.
Cioccolato Talmone, http://www.museoarteurbana.it/en/cioccolato-talmone/
Mughini, Giampiero and Maurizio Scudiero. 1997. Il manifesto pubblicitario italiano. Da Dudovich a Depero (1890-1940). Milan: Nuova Arti Grafiche Ricordi.
Pellegrini, Sonia (ed.). 2009. L’officina del volo: futurismo, pubblicità e design. Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale.
Villari, Anna (ed.). 2008. L’arte della pubblicità: il manifesto italiano e le avanguardie 1920-1940. Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale.
Wohl, Robert. 2005. The Spectacle of Flying: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1920-1950. New Haven-London: Yale University press.