As it was mentioned by Fang and Jowett & O’Donnell, propaganda has expanded from the time of Greek and Roman, where there are still a limitation on the circulation and controlling the flow of information, and how it was spread was through the word of mouth. Until propaganda became widely expanded in the 19th and 20th century as the key period where propaganda have been widely accepted and practiced even until now. (1997, 2012).
Propaganda has always been tied to a political manner in the society. One of the reason is because propagandists have a certain goal to achieve, and there will be a large number of people in the society to convince. That is why propaganda became one of the sophisticated way of conveying ideas to the mass audience, especially during the war. United States is well known with its military engagements and warfare, especially in the 20th century where United States involved in a lot of the military conflicts and other several unofficial engagements. This is why United States is globally known as a country that has militaristic power, until this present day (Foley, 2015).
United States of America utilized the power of propaganda in order to achieve a certain goal for a certain purposes during the war. There are various examples of propaganda that can be commonly found, and one of them is the World War II propaganda posters. Poster was a media that was commonly used back in the wartime. Foley agreed that posters were an effective form of media that was used in propaganda because of its versatility. Posters were effective because it could be hung anywhere, some of the posters would be having a different design to prevent the ideal message to become monotonous and how it could possesses a unique message for the effort in the war (2015). There are various categories of posters that revolved during that time, it all depends on the certain idea or message that they want to convey to the public. One of the example is Figure 1.
Figure 1: Don’t Let That Shadow touch Them. Buy War Bonds.
It was created by an artist that well-known for his litographs of children in 1942 for the Government Printing Office fo the U.S. Treasury NARA Still Picture Branch, titled “Don’t Let That Shadow Touch Them.” In Figure 1, the propagandist use a closest technique to Fear and Name-Calling, where they visually put the images of children as the main focus that represent the children of the American people. The expressions of the character is the expression of fear and unsafety of the enemy which is being represented by the shadow behind their figures, which is a symbol of the Nazi party. The propagandist’s goal is to imitate the feeling of fear of the opposite party, which is the Germans, by using the symbol and the technique of Name-Calling and demonizing the enemy, bringing a negative aspect of the opposite party. According to Foley, the propagandist that use these techniques of showing the enemy’s brutality, wants to imitate the feeling of fear and play with the audience’s emotions so it could motivate people to support the war effort in every way as possible (2015). While according to Grinnell College, a study that was conducted by the U.S Government showed that by utilizing the image of women and children it could bring an emotional impact towards the audiences, and U.S Government was advised by the public relations experts that a poster that has an emotional values were much more successful in influencing the opinion of the viewers (2015). In this case, the poster has an emotional impact towards the viewers in order to persuade the viewers into an action to prevent an act of brutality from the enemy by buying the war bonds to provide the feeling of safety for the children or American’s family.
On the other hand, one of the example of advertising that was created during World War II is Figure 2. It was an advertisement by the Community Silverware in 1942, where the company produces silverware.
Figure 2: Community Silverware (1942)
In this advertising, the figures of the children and a pet are the main focus, a symbol of the young generations, where the expression that they show is the expression full of hope, joy, and confidence. This advertisement wants to portray an ideal condition after the war, where there will be no more fear, but only freedom and joy. It played with the viewer’s emotional state just like the way Figure 1 did. This advertisement uses the same technique as the propaganda in the Figure 1, which is bringing an emotional impact to the viewers to trigger a certain action that will end up supporting the war effort in any way, like buying war bonds, promoting efficiency in factories, etc (Grinnell College, 2015). But in this case, to buy a certain product that related to the war production.
This advertisement using bright and soft colours in a harmonious way and also represent hope for a bright future for the children.This advertisement also aim to gain an emotional response from the viewers, suggesting them to protect the children from the enemy, as in quote, “…That our children may look in the skies in joy and confidence. . . and not on fear.” This quote suggests that by supporting the U.S Government with the war effort, the audience indirectly fighting for their children’s well-being. This is one of the way of how an advertisement in World War II could influence the viewer’s perspective and emotion.