Has a piece of advice ever seemed so apt, or so frightfully ironic?
Thirteen years ago, Stuart Manley stumbled upon a slightly faded red poster tucked at the bottom of a box of books he had bought at auction. Unfolding it, he found himself staring at a relic of World War II, a long-forgotten piece of government propaganda bearing the logo of the British crown and this pithy message:
Keep calm and carry on.
Charmed by its classic design and no-fuss stoicism, Manley and his wife, Mary, framed the vintage poster and hung it up by the cash register in their secondhand bookshop in a disused Victorian train station in the far north of England. After many admiring comments and inquiries from customers, Manley started selling copies — behind Mary’s back, because she didn’t want to commercialize it.
Ahem. Enter perhaps the most commercialized British product since David Beckham.
Manley’s little side venture spawned a marketing and cultural phenomenon, inspiring a million imitations around the world and also, alas, one very acrimonious feud.
Read more in Sunday’s Arizona Daily Star or StarNet.