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Branding & People

In Search of Truth

This section is dedicated to the people who spent months and years in the mines of South Limburg. And although mining for many was a way to earn an honest living, it was also considered a last resort. Miners across the country struggled with their education and as a result, became dropouts who felt the need to “be useful somehow”.

The men from the mines

Founded in 1912, one of the world’s leading advertising agencies — McCann Erickson — lives by the slogan “Truth Well Told”. Because “when truth is well told it has the power to move people, brands, and markets”. What was then moved by the branding and communication of the Dutch mining companies? 


Mining was an occupation that went from father to son. From a very young age, children followed their fathers into the mines. However, that was not always a conscious choice — if it was known that a child’s father was an underground mine worker, he would not get accepted into a school.

Propaganda in Mining

By reading into the posters and comparing their messages to the experiences of miners we found a lack of transparency in the communication issued by the Dutch mining companies. Probably the reason why many of the designers who made these and other posters often felt regret for propagating false or misleading information. James Montgomery Flagg, the artist who once made the notorious “I want YOU” poster was struck by remorse after the end of World War II. He said:

A number of us who were too old or too scared to fight prostituted our talents by making posters inciting a large mob of young men who had never done anything to us to hop over and get shot at. . . We sold the war to youth. 

James Montgomery Flagg

In the fifties and sixties boys often followed in the footsteps of their fathers.

Nico Maar
A former miner

And while the mines of South Limburg cannot be compared to battlegrounds across Europe, the posters and messaging they used to recruit more and more miners often propagated ideals or promises that rarely became true. People often had no choice but to become miners. However, The Fight for Talent was not taking place only in The Netherlands. Mining companies were recruiting talent from all over the world — Morocco, Italy, France, and Slovenia.

One of the main reasons that forced the Dutch mining companies to look for talent in different countries across Europe was that, according to our communication with formers miners, the Dutch people did not want to work in the mines. Many of them could not be tempted by the salaries and social benefits that companies promised, as they knew of the risk and danger deep underground. This can be seen in posters, such as these, which emphasized on safety.

Translation: Support freed clocks timely

Ontdek meer op de website van het Nederlands Mijnmuseum.

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