Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Emotional War Copy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Emotional War Copy



The photo on the left was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Emotional photos like these, coupled with the story- of either a man and woman; father and son;mother and son- any number of loving, emotional human bond, could be coupled with that other 'bond'- a War Bond.
Emotional advertising during the war was utilized primarily to sell War Bonds.
War Bonds and stamps were sold all over the United States, and by the Chicago Retail Merchants Association, known before the war as simply, "The Cook County Retail Council".
Responding to the government's expectation of 4% of their July volume in war securities, the association came up with a scheme that would not only mobilize the public to buy, but to buy from their stores as part of a "war effort".
Copy was prepared according to very simple, 900-line insertions meant to capture attention, make an association, and while the reader was in the grip of sentiment, throw in a solution- Buy War Bonds!
The stores that made up the coalition included Marshall Field's, Sears of Chicago and McFarland's of Evanston. Many ways to present wereconsidered, until finally, one man, Clyde Bedell, author of a book entitled "How to Write Advertising that Sells", was put in charge of selecting the most effective copy. There were five 'angles' to be covered, the first three being "Mind wanderings of a soldier", Soldiers on leave soliciting war bonds, and "a father's comments about his son lost in battle." "Some Party", "At Bataan" and "Boy Tracks"were the first prepared, followed by "Dear Mom", and "Prayer".James Sessions, a noted illustrator, did his work illuminating the main ideas of the copy, and used symbols intented to propel the public into reaching into their pockets. 400 Walgreens stores, Woolworth's, A&Ps, and numerous other chains featured the blowups. While there are no direct sales numbers definitley linked to the ads, it is probably safe to say that they reached their end goal of 4% of their total sales for July allocated to War Bonds and Stamp sales.

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