Cover the earth!
December 30, 2005 12:26 PM   Subscribe

The Sherwin-Williams paint logo has always reminded me of a propaganda poster. Possibly with WWII Japan depicted as an octopus. Or maybe there's oil involved.

The Sherwin-Williams logo has always looked menacing to me. I recall one or two propaganda posters (or political cartoons) in my old middle/high school history book that forged this connotation.


I'm fairly certain the original image was of an octopus engulfing the earth. I found this thread that covers many instances of the octopus being used as a propaganda symbol. There are a lot of close images, but not the one I remember.

In that thread, a member is looking for this image, but is unsuccessful:

"I'm trying to find one of the more famous octopus in propaganda, a WWII poster depicting Imperial Japan as an enormous cephalopod taking in Southeast Asia and reaching for Australia."

I think this might be the image I'm looking for, too. If not, it's in a similar vein and was not covered in the octopus forum thread linked to above.


Again, in my history book was a political cartoon (I think) of an oil drum pouring out onto the globe. I'm not sure what era this would have been from.

Any bites?
posted by Sangre Azul to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've always had the same naggin' feeling about the S-W logo. (And god, what a horrible slogan.)
posted by keswick at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2005

Rather off-topic, but it's also quite reminiscent of the nicktoons logo.
posted by TonyRobots at 12:32 PM on December 30, 2005

This page shows a Nazi poster depicting an octopus with the Star of David surrounding the earth.

This is a Photoshopped version of a poster with an octopus — possibly the original is what you're looking for?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:49 PM on December 30, 2005

I found a couple. This .pdf, and this image.. They're not anti-Japanese, but anti-monopoly, in particular Standard Oil.
posted by electroboy at 12:50 PM on December 30, 2005

Maybe send an email to the asker to see if he ever got a satisfactory answer (perhaps off-list)?
posted by misterbrandt at 12:52 PM on December 30, 2005

Response by poster: Those are close, but not what I remember. Still, it's ammo when I mention to folks exactly why the S-W logo creeps me out so much.
posted by Sangre Azul at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2005

I seem to remember a cartoon - maybe Popeye or Mighty Mouse - where the Axis powers were depicted as a flood of red flowing over the globe of the Earth. If I'm not making it up, I bet that's it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:02 PM on December 30, 2005

I love the Sherwin-Williams logo. I've never seen a more Communist advertisement anywhere.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:04 PM on December 30, 2005


posted by doctor_negative at 1:21 PM on December 30, 2005

The S-W logo, and in particular the slogan, has always creeped me out. The company has an interesting history. The logo dates to 1905 so it might actually be the inspiration to propaganda posters you have seen.
posted by Mr T at 1:33 PM on December 30, 2005

It's always unnerved me too. In fact I remember when I really *saw* it- I was in Central America at the time and the "Cover the Earth" logo was in Spanish.

It's always reminded me of Christian ideology- meaning that if you believe that the earth is merely a temporary stop on the way to Heaven then it's ok to cover the earth with paint. When Judgement Day comes, only the sinners will be left on the planet and all the chosen ones can look down and see it covered with red (i.e. Hell).
posted by jeremias at 2:03 PM on December 30, 2005

Response by poster: fandango_matt's answer, which is the original of IshmaelGraves's photoshopped version, might be it. I think my old text book had the image in black and white, which is what is throwing me off.

I'll flag that as a best answer later today if nothing else shows up, as it demonstrates the creep-out factor well enough for my purposes. Though not what I remembered, the anti semitic propaganda looks the closest to the actual logo, as does a communism image I found on my own.

I'm at least glad I'm not the only who who thinks it's a sinister logo!
posted by Sangre Azul at 2:32 PM on December 30, 2005

Unrelated, but does anyone besides me see the "compacted" swastika in the Columbia Sportswear Logo? I swear, it looks like a swastika in a heavy gravitational field, or the shrinky-dink version of a swastika..
posted by hincandenza at 2:40 PM on December 30, 2005

As a kid I remember thinking it would be a great poster for the Socialist Worker's Party to use.
posted by InkaLomax at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2005

I'm sure I remember a political cartoon from the turn of the century that had a similar theme. An image of the earth being covered by some liquid that represented politics or something. Same kind of cartoons where you'd see a huge fat man walking over the south with a sash that read "Carpet Bagger" or some such. I can't seem to find the one I'm thinking of, however.
posted by qwip at 3:44 PM on December 30, 2005

Okay, sorry to stay off-topic, but it's even weirder to look at that Columbia logo and now know that the founder of the company was Jewish, and fled Nazi Germany for Portland, OR at the age of 13 in 1937 with her parents, and the company was founded in 1938 by her father. Guess sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar...
posted by hincandenza at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2005

Unrelated, but does anyone besides me see the "compacted" swastika in the Columbia Sportswear Logo?

Yes! It's even more shocking when the logo is stitched into something so each "bar" is not quite so bulbous — I had a pair of sneakers where each was basically a single row of stitching and without a closer look the illusion was uncanny.
posted by rafter at 8:36 PM on December 30, 2005

The Deadline to Action How left-wing labor unions engaged in political activism to combat corporate influence on the U.S. Congress in the years following World War II
posted by hortense at 9:58 PM on December 30, 2005

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