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WARXPLOITATION

A quick look at WWII advertisements


Above Left: After America began fighting in WWII, ads increasingly told of the cornucopia of goods that would be available after the war. In the future imagined by Western Airlines, dad takes the "family plane" to work. Above Right: Women joined the work force en masse during WWII, but as far as advertisers were concerned, Rosie the Riveter wasn’t the only game in town. Portraying war duty as Love Boat with a dash of the Macy’s catalog, Camel cigarettes shows the options for military fashion.

 

Above Left: This ad by the Kenyon & Eckhardt agency was among the very few that industry self-regulators found objectionable. The president of K&E defended the ad as an attempt to overcome women’s resistance to war work by assuring them that it wouldn’t ruin their appearance. Above Right: The World Telegram promotes America’s "not-so-secret weapon": propaganda!

 

Above Left: Texico and other corporations promoted work (not to mention hatred of "Japs") as a patriotic duty. Above Right: Despite paper shortages and the strict rationing of goods, advertising prospered during the war. The majority of ads made no mention of the war, and those that did often included merely a token reference to the war campaigns. This ad for Vimms Vitamins (1943) typifies how companies promoted their brands rather than war campaigns.

 

Above Leftt: The War Advertising Council orchestrated industry PR efforts. Much like the Ad Council’s later campaigns for pollution, this ad portrays the enforcement of price curbs as a citizen’s duty rather than the responsibility of business. WAC founder James Webb Young was decidely upfront about the Council’s mission. "There is a popular misconception among people that we are proposing a great humanitarian project," he said in a 1945 speech to fellow ad men. "On the contrary, we have discovered and demonstrated a technique of advertising which increases the effectiveness and power of advertising." Above Right: In this trade ad, Westinghouse’s agency shows the radio industry how it promotes radio’s war on the "3rd front, where men’s minds–not bodies–are target and battlefield." The original ad, with its candid advocacy of propaganda, ran in Time (1944).