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DeSoto Brown

Bishop Museum historian

Two advertisements

Matson Navigation, 1937,

Pan American Airways, 1945

1937 - Matson DSCxs.jpg

Both of these ads are promoting travel to Hawaii, the first by ship and the second by plane.

The Matson ad uses a staged photo, which includes actual surfer / Waikiki beachboy Tom Blake holding one of his hollow boards, of his own design.

Now look at the Pan Am ad. The surfer and the seated woman on the right have obviously been copied by the commercial artist from the Matson photo, published 8 years earlier.

The couple is not 100% identical, and they’ve been reversed to be in the opposite positions, but in many respects are remarkably similar.

Also note that the Pan Am ad proclaims “Today hundreds see Hawaii by television…” in the upper left corner.

1945 - Pan Am DSCxs.jpg

TV was still barely developed in 1945, and its viewers even in New York City numbered only in the hundreds, if that. But television would explode in popularity into the 1950s, starting with the end of World War II a few months after this advertisement was published.

So would air travel as well, which this ad’s headline predicts: “Tomorrow thousands will go to Hawaii by CLIPPER”, meaning Pan American Clipper airplanes.

The word “tomorrow” in this case refers not literally to the next day, but to the upcoming years of the postwar period. “Once Victory is won, thousands of Americans who have never seen Hawaii’s exotic islands will go there by Clipper in ten hours from the Pacific Coast.”

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