Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Advertising in Wartime

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Advertising in Wartime

Advertising in Wartime

“Advertising in wartime has changed its character. Devoted no longer to the promotion of products and services which it can no longer deliver, it has become instead a primary weapon in the sale of social and economic ideas.” (Advertising in Wartime, 236)
This article discussed a disturbing trend in advertising that occurred during WWII. Companies actually dramatically increased their advertisements for products during WWII. There were various excuses from the companies as to why they did this; the most laughable was companies such as Purely Plastics and Chemical Company and the Home Aluminum and Brass Corporations (and numerous companies like these) who increased their advertising greatly. These companies like Purely did not even have a completed product yet they flooded radio and print ads with messages to “remember to ask for their products after the war.” Companies like Purely did not even make a product available to the general consumer, but parts that were given to distributors and dealers to use in other products.

Companies like Ivory Soap®, and Wheaties™ used advertising to suppossibly “remind” the people that they would be there for them following the war. The worst was many companies launched tremendous advertising campaigns claiming that their company or their product was winning the war for America. They tried to create a public notion that without these products, the war would be lost. It got so bad that the U.S. government was beginning to contemplate launching a campaign just to let the public know that the soldiers were needed and helping with the war.

It would seem the main reason most of these companies went on a marketing and advertising tirade was because unlike during previous wars, they were told that their money spent on ads would not be taxable which would allow them to keep some of their profits if they used money towards advertising. The worst of it all is, because it wasn’t taxable, rather then donate money to our war effort, or donate money to our government in this time of need and conflict, they chose to waste their time on frivolous advertisements, instead of truly supporting the war effort. These companies spent on themselves even though they didn’t have much in the way of products being produced let alone sold, instead of spending on our troops.


Blogger A. Mattson said...

There were numerous reasons for advertising during wartime. Maintaining brand loyalty, positioning products for postwar consumption, financial and tax advantages, etc.

But the most important was that wartime advertising served to sell a patriotic, popular war that presented manufacterers and advertising industry in a patriotic, do-gooding light. It was good PR to associate advertising with a patriotic appeal. Selling an American way of life was a patriotic appeal based on consumerism as a foundation of American society.

4/09/2007 11:51 PM  

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