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US Propaganda During WWII

US Propaganda During WWII

The U.S. used posters more than any other method of broadcasting propaganda, and produced more propaganda posters than any other country fighting in World War II. Almost 200,000 different designs were printed during the war.

US WWII Poster - Army air forces

US WWII Poster - Army air forces

The feature that distinguished the United States poster propaganda from British and other allied propaganda was that the advertisements remained primarily positive in their messages. The United States focused on duty, patriotism and tradition where other countries were focusing on fueling the people’s hate for the enemy. These positive messages were used to increase the production of the home front instead of insuring that the “money raised was not lost”.

US WWII Poster - United we are strong

US WWII Poster - United we are strong

Posters used a number of themes to encourage support for the war including conservation, production, recruiting, home efforts, and secrecy. Posters were placed in areas lacking paid advertisements. The most common areas were post offices, railroad stations, schools, restaurants, and retail stores.

US WWII Poster Be with him at every mail call

US WWII Poster Be with him at every mail call

The war posters were not designed by the government but by artists who received no compensation for their work. Different government-run organizations held competitions for artists to produce their best war time design in order to enlarge the number of designs that they could choose from.

Companies Advertisement

Many companies ran advertising supporting the war to keep their names before the public while they had no products to sell, which they were allowed to treat as a business expense. Car companies and others that had retooled for the war effort took out ads depicting their efforts. Other companies would connect their product with the war.

WWII - GM Allison Advertising

WWII - GM Allison Advertising

Lucky Strike claimed the change from green to white in its packaging was to save bronze for weapons, and saw its sales skyrocket.

Lucky Strike Packaging Before and During WWII

Lucky Strike Packaging Before and During WWII

Lucky Strike WWII Poster

Lucky Strike WWII Poster

Coca-Cola depicted its product being drunk by defense workers and members of the armed forces, as did many other soft drinks. Many product ads also urged the purchase of war bonds.

1945 - Coca-Cola Poster - Just Like Old Times

1945 - Coca-Cola Poster - Just Like Old Times

1945 Coca-Cola Poster - The Pause That Refreshes

1945 Coca-Cola Poster - The Pause That Refreshes

1945 Coca-Cola Poster - Soldier Plays Violin

1945 Coca-Cola Poster - Soldier Plays Violin

Careless talk

Many posters depicted careless talk as providing information to the enemy, and so causing deaths. This was to prevent people with sensitive information from talking about where spies or saboteurs could listen in. Posters with this theme were used to convey the reality of war to the general public

WWII US Poster - Loose Talk Can Cause This

WWII US Poster - Loose Talk Can Cause This

WWII US Poster - Loose Talk Can Cost Lives

WWII US Poster - Loose Talk Can Cost Lives

Some slogans used for this type of poster were “loose talk costs lives”, “Another careless word, another wooden cross”, and “bits of careless talk are pieced together by the enemy”.

US WWII Poster - Bits of careless talk all placed together by the enemy

US WWII Poster - Bits of careless talk all placed together by the enemy

Stories also emphasized antirumor theme, as when one woman advised another not to talk with a man about her war job, because the woman he is dating is untrustworthy and might be an enemy agent.

WWII US Poster - Loose Talk Can Cost Lives

WWII US Poster - Loose Talk Can Cost Lives

Conservation

Conservation was the largest theme in poster propaganda, making up 1 out of every 7 posters during the war. Conserving materials, in the kitchen and around the home, was 1 of 5 major topics in posters with conservation themes. Some ways women were encouraged to help with conservation was through cooking by saving fat and grease for explosives and ration sugar, meat, butter, and coffee to leave more for the soldiers.

US WWII Poster - Save Waste Fats for Explosives

US WWII Poster - Save Waste Fats for Explosives

Because of posters and other forms of advertisements the United States recycled 538 million pounds of waste fats, 23 million tons of paper, and 800 million pounds of tin.

US WWII Poster - When You Ride Alone You Ride with Hitler!

US WWII Poster - When You Ride Alone You Ride with Hitler!

Production

Industrial and agricultural production was a major focus of poster campaigns. As the war-time boom meant that people had money to buy things for the first time since the Depression, propaganda also emphasized the need to support the war effort, so that the money could not be spent and so divert material from the war effort.

US WWII Poster - I'm proud of you folks too!

US WWII Poster - I'm proud of you folks too!

US WWII Poster - Back'em up with more metal

US WWII Poster - Back'em up with more metal

Economy and industry were strongly emphasized in United States propaganda posters because of the need for long term production during the war. Factory workers were encouraged to become more than just workers but “Production Soldiers” at the home front. These posters were meant to persuade workers to shorted breaks, work longer hours, and produce as many tools and weapons in order to increase the utilities of the military.

US WWII Poster - Produce to the limit!

US WWII Poster - Produce to the limit!

Victory gardens

The government encouraged vegetable gardens to help prevent food shortages. Magazines such as Saturday Evening Post and Life printed articles supporting it, with women’s magazines including directions. Because they were regarded as patriotic, they were termed victory gardens, and women were encouraged to can and preserve food from them. The Department of Agriculture provided information, and many commercial publishers brought out books, on how to plant one. There were also warnings about converting land unsuitable for gardening.

US WWII Poster - War gardens for victory

US WWII Poster - War gardens for victory

Americans planted 50 million victory gardens. This produced more vegetables than total commercial production, and much of it was preserved, following the slogan: “Eat what you can, and can what you can’t.”

US WWII Poster - Grow your own can your own

US WWII Poster - Grow your own can your own

US WW II Poster - Your victory garden

US WW II Poster - Your victory garden

War bonds

The sale of War bonds was promoted. Originally termed “Defense Bonds”, they were called “war bonds” after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Much of the nation’s artistic talent and best advertising techniques were put to use to keep the program voluntary.

US WWII Posters - Fight or buy bonds

US WWII Posters - Fight or buy bonds

War bond rallies and drives were common, and were staged at many social events. Teachers passed out booklets for children to save toward a bond. Marlene Dietrich and many other female movie stars sold thousands of dollars worth of war bonds. Even product ads often contained the slogan “Buy War Bonds and Stamps!”

US WWII Posters - Keep buying war bonds

US WWII Posters - Keep buying war bonds

US WWII Posters - USA Bonds

US WWII Posters - USA Bonds

Payroll deduction plans for buying war bonds were also the subject of propaganda pushes. 135 billion dollars of liberty bonds were sold most of which went to banks, insurance companies and corporations. However, individuals made up 36 billion dollars in bonds sold and children made up 1 billion.

US WWII Poster - Even a little can help a lot - now!

US WWII Poster - Even a little can help a lot - now!

Women Power

Major campaigns were launched to encourage women to enter the work force and convince their husbands that this was appropriate action. Government campaigns targeting women were addressed solely at housewives, perhaps because already employed women would move to the higher-paid “essential” jobs on their own. Propaganda was also directed at their husbands, many of whom were unwilling. Fiction also tackled husbands’ resistance to employment.

US WWII Posters - We can do it

US WWII Posters - We can do it

US WWII Poster - Find your war job

US WWII Poster - Find your war job

US WWII Posters - Be a cadet nurse

US WWII Posters - Be a cadet nurse

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