The Caribbean Tourism Organization, the official body responsible for marketing and promoting the Caribbean has members from over 30 countries and territories as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. These government and corporate organizations collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year enticing visitors to the region. A significant amount of this money is spent globally on advertising campaigns via television, newspapers, magazines and increasingly online interactive campaigns like the Happiness Builder website recently launched by the Aruba Tourism Authority.
The Happiness Builder website allows potential visitors to explore nearly 100 videos featuring adventure, relaxation, romance and cultural activities in Aruba. After review, they can then pick six of their favorite videos, add music, a personalized message and share with family and friends who might be joining them on the trip to Aruba. Digital marketing campaigns like this one can be quite effective due to their viral nature. Also, long before airline tickets and hotel rooms are booked, today’s tech-savvy traveler are looking for information and rich-content that gives them a good idea as to what they will experience while on the island. Campaigns like this offer reassurance to potential visitors that they have selected the right Caribbean destination based on their personal holiday preferences.
However, long before the invention of the Internet and these creative digital marketing campaigns, glamorous pin-up posters were used quite effectively to attract visitors to the Caribbean. Below are two examples of these vintage Caribbean travel pin-up posters that were sold via Christie’s Auction House last December at the inaugural online-only sale of Vintage Posters ￼and Photographs: The Art of the Pin-Up. Evocative and seductive, these pin-up posters depict an alluring, sophisticated and liberated lifestyle. They draw you in with their clever and creative use of the male and most often female form in bikinis. They encourage you to escape modern life to the beaches of the Caribbean. Now, these pin-up posters from the 1950s to 1970s are highly collectible.
According to Sophie Churcher, Posters Specialist at Christie’s South Kensington in London,
“Vintage posters were originally intended as disposable advertising – whether on the subway, billboard or high street – and, for this reason, there are not many, relatively speaking, that have survived. This rarity, coupled with the striking promotional imagery and skillful design displayed in each poster, as well as the history of why they were made and the broad spectrum of subject matter illustrated, make it a very appealing category for new collectors as well as connoisseurs. No art history degree is required to be able to appreciate the posters – the appeal and the impact can be instant. Posters fit well within both contemporary and more traditional interiors. Today the majority of buyers are private individuals – often who have never bought at auction before – who simply like the images, and use the posters to decorate their homes or offices.”
So how much would these beautiful Caribbean travel pin-up posters cost to acquire? Well, the eye-catching bikini bottom PAN AM pin-up poster sold for £3,500. The British Overseas Airways Corporation pin-up poster of a happy couple enjoys the beach in the Caribbean sold for a more modest £1,000. Most of the 70 lots in the Christie’s sale had a starting bids ranging from £300 up to £7,000. So quite reasonable by art collection standards but values are expected to increase in the years ahead. The highest price paid for a travel poster in Christie’s sale is for Man Ray’s iconic Keeps London Going poster from 1939, which sold at the South Kensington saleroom in June 2007 for £50,400 (US$100,901).
FLY TO THE CARIBBEAN BY B.O.A.C
lithograph in colors, 1949, condition A-; backed on linen
30 x 20 in. (76 x 51 cm.)
Estimate: £800 – 1,200
Price realized: £1,000
FLY TO THE CARIBBEAN BY B.O.A.C. Photo: © CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2015.
CARIBBEAN, PAN AM
offset lithograph in colors, condition B+/A-; backed on linen
41½ x 28 in. (106 x 72 cm.)
Estimate: £1,000 – 1,500
Price realized: £3,500
CARIBBEAN, PAN AM. Photo: © CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2015.
Note: A third Caribbean travel pin-up posters was also in the Christie’s auction – CARIBBEAN, PAN AMERICAN. However, this surprisingly did not sell. Perhaps on the next go around as like the others, it is glamorous and a reminder about the golden age of air travel.