Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Advertising that helped to adjust the labor situation

Monday, March 08, 2010

Advertising that helped to adjust the labor situation

The end of the World War 1 was a period where the advertising was expanding in America. Businesses and companies started to use advertising more to create a bigger international market for their products. The way advertising influenced people to consume was new and fascinating. Some started to think that the way advertising persuade people could be the solution to the problems society had with the industrial workers. In that time, at 1919, strikers was shaking the nation, destroying industries, threatening the capitalism and the social order. This threat of workingmen making revolution started to show similarity to the "Worker´s Revolution" in the Soviet Union. The so called Bolshevism in Soviet (a type of communism based on writings from Marx and Lenin) could endanger the big businesses in America with its anti-capitalism. ( Breaking The Spell of Bolshevism, p.1)
Flag of the Russian National Bolsheviks.
The Printer´s Ink was a journal that became inspired by how the adverts was persuading people to purchase. They explored how they could use advertising in a way to solve the social problem that the labor rebellion caused. W. Livingston Larned wrote an article in Printers Inc 1919 of how to use advertisements to prevent people to be attracted to Bolshevism. He states that the advertisements have to humanize the workers and make them feel worthy their jobs by including them in the ads (Breaking The Spell of Bolshevism, p.1). Livingston writes that it is too much focus on the strikes and the bad labor condition but it is never mentioned about the improvements that have been done, or that it is seldom written about satisfied workers instead of the dissatisfying ones. The important fact that needs to be stressed in the media is the progress that have done the workers to happy, hardworking, satisfied employees. A foreman of a plant that is producing steel products is interview in Livingston´s article and says,
“OH, yes, I think working men see advertising and read it and are mildly interested, but they would take far greater interest if they could only see themselves glorified a little. Labor is Human.”
The idea is to use advertisements where you not only can see what the product does but also show the men who works down in the dark, dusty places to provide the society with these products. It would give the worker a greater pride in his job. To give the workingman attention will make him feel important and needed in the factory and therefore not let the strikes and Bolshevism lure him to join. The foreman continues,
“Bolshevism wouldn’t come up for discussion if American Labor really thought that it was a vital part of the human side of life.” (Livingston, p. 2)
These are some example of how the companies started to give more attention to their workers in their ads:
  • The Yale & Towne Company celebrated their Semi-Centennial by issuing an advertisement that gave the co-workers appreciation. Through this publication, the co-workers felt that they were an asset to the company and proud of being identified with the Yale brand.
  • Blue Buckle Overalls used adverts where they honor the humble clothes the workingmen had to wear. The adverts showed the clothes on workingmen made by fine paintings and pointed out that the working clothes are for busy, hardworking men.
Blue Buckle Overall magazine advert
  • Reliance Work Shirts used ads where they glorified the theme or workingmen through picturing the worker in an enviable and classy way.
  • Waltham Watch Company’s advertisements focused more on the expertise of people making the watch than on the actual watch. The advert is giving the workers credit and at the same time praises the Waltham Watch.
  • The Simonds Manufacturing Company connected their steel products to the working men that was using them.
Ad/Instruction of how to file a hand saw by The Simonds Manufacturing Company.
  • The Estes Service was using an insignia showing a labors muscular arm rising from industrial plants. This company was inspired by an aggressive advertising campaign used ten years before with the copy: “So do not number your organization by hands. Count the heads – and the hearts. Train the heads. Win the hearts. The hands will then be capable and faithful used in your service.” (Livingston, p. 3-4)

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