Advertising in the Time of Import Substitution

Being on leave means having the time to read the things you too often ignore. Like advertisements from periods you are studying for completely other purposes. Because of their attempt to appear "timely" and "contemporary" within the moment of their making, and because of their appeal to desire and aspiration, ads can read like windows onto the zeitgeist and collective dreamings of the past. But mostly, they are fascinating to look at. In the case of the images below, their nationalization aesthetic and rhetoric contradict and challenge our neoliberal present—and that in itself is worth the effort of study.

In July 1963, the Egyptian Gazette published a "special supplement" commemorating the eleventh anniversary of the 1952 coup d'état that brought the Free Officers to power. The oversize issue of the Gazette trumpets the accomplishments of the Nasser regime in a series of fluff journalistic 'pieces' and large ads mounted by leading public sector industries—from tourism to cotton weaving to tourism, offering a range of consumer products. Most (all?) of the companies here were built from colonial-era corporations that had been (in 1963) only recently nationalized. The ads of this issue of the Gazette are thus testament to the unrealized and imperfect dream of creating an independent national economy. 

Steel, iron, plastic and wood

They used to make things other than macaroni...

They used to make things other than macaroni...

Food and Drink

Luxury goods

Cotton and Textiles



Islam ( الدعوة )