Napoleon in Advertising

Napoleon Bonaparte’s name and image have been used to advertise a huge number of products since the Emperor’s death in 1821. In many cases, the advertised item has no obvious connection with Napoleon. One critic noted of an ad that appeared in 1899:

Liebig Beef Extract Napoleon adThis ad shows Napoleon on horseback, three pyramids, a few camels, and a sphinx. The text of the ad is: ‘Napoleon and the Sphinx were types, and represented the greatest development of the world in their times. Liebig Company’s Extract of Beef is a type of the world’s peaceful development; the scientists’ contribution to the health and comfort and mankind.’ … As a picture, the design is a success, but as advertising it is what the late lamented Bonaparte said was worse than a crime – it’s a blunder. (1)

Here are some examples of how Napoleon has appeared in advertising over the years.




Napoleon bicycle ad


Napoleon bicycle advertisement



Napoleon cigar ad


Napoleon coat ad


napoleon coffee ad





Napoleon medicine ad


Oysters Napoleon ad

Package machines

Package Machinery Napoleon Ad


Soft Drinks


Napoleon vault ad


Napoleon watch advertisement


Napoleon Breguet Watch ad

You might also enjoy:

Weird Pictures of Napoleon

What did Napoleon look like?

What did Napoleon like to wear?

Songs About Napoleon Bonaparte

Self-Help Lessons from Napoleon Bonaparte

10 Things Napoleon Never Said

  1. Printers’ Ink, Vol. 26, No. 9 (New York, March 1, 1899), p. 44.

14 commments on “Napoleon in Advertising”

  • Dave Naramore says:

    And there was also Napoleon’s memorable appearance in Brut 33’s Quebec advertising back in the early 80s (starts at about the 0:26 mark in the link):

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Splendid! Thanks for the addition, Dave.

  • Irene Hartlmayr says:

    The quote “it was not a crime, it was a blunder” was not said by Napoleon. It is said to have been pronounced by Fouché when the Duc d’Enghien was executed in 1804. It was also attributed to Talleyrand; whether it was him or Fouché is not certain.

  • Hels says:

    The only ads that still look impressive were those where the image of Napoleon was taken seriously and replicated handsomely. The brandy ad was delightful and Diovol Plus was clever. The second watch ad was too crowded, but it too was spot-on.

  • Marieno says:

    Great fun, thanks!
    I especially like the ads about bikes because i like bikes AND Napoleon. But my favorite is the one called “A la Redingote Grise”, the maker of anti-theft coat?!?

  • atty says:

    Here’s one with one mention of Napoleon’s name by a period Russian infantry battalion on campaign march while singing in stride.

  • Armand says:

    I just stumbled on your blog. very interesting perspectives and questions/topics 🙂

    About Napoleon in ads, I was told by a Polish friend, that Carrefour is (was?) running a series of TV ads in Poland, where Napoleon is remembered fondly.
    (that man is certainly no Frenchman, but it’s good French and the accent is rather charming)
    And for a bonus, I can only assume we have Joséphine as well. (and she’s either French or learnt French well, I can’t hear any accent)

    I don’t speak Polish so I cannot tell if they play with Napoleon or French tropes.

    As a side note, Carrefour in France never ran any ad campaign (or not any major one at least) featuring Napoleon.

  • Jim Gallen says:

    I really like the one about Iowa. It has the right combination of humor and information about Iowa to be memorable.

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Me too, Jim, especially since my great-grandparents came from Iowa. It’s a beautiful state!

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As a picture, the design is a success, but as advertising it is what the late lamented Bonaparte said was worse than a crime – it’s a blunder.

Printers’ Ink (1899)