Public Service Advertising and the Use of Advertising in Propaganda

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Adams, Edward E., and Rajiv Sekhri. “Daily Newspaper Advertising Trends During World War II: IRS Tax Rulings and the War Bond Drives.” American Journalism 12, no. 3 (1995): 201–12.

Adkins-Covert, Tawnya J.  Mobilization Propaganda: Advertisements in Women’s Magazines During World War II.  American Sociological Association, 1997.

Bird, William L.  Better Living: Advertising, Media, and the New Vocabulary of Business Leadership, 1935-1955. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1999.

Brasted, Monica.  Magazine Advertising in Life During World War II: Patriotism Through Service, Thrift, and Utility.  Lanham: Lexington Books, 2018. 

Fones Wolf, Elizabeth.  Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945-1960.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.   

Fones Wolf, Elizabeth. “Creating a Favorable Business Climate: Corporations and Radio Broadcasting, 1934-1954.” Business History Review 73, No. 2 (Summer 1999): 221-255. 

Fox, Frank W.  Madison Avenue Goes to War: The Strange Military Career of American Advertising, 1941-1945.  Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975.

Ghilani, Jessica Lynne.  “Selling Soldiering to Consumers: Advertising, Media, and the Volunteer Army.”  PhD dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2013. 

Griffith, Robert.  “The Selling of America: The Advertising Council and American Politics, 1942-1960.”  Business History Review 57:3 (Autumn 1983): 388-412.

Haddow, Robert H.  Pavilions of Plenty: Exhibiting American Culture Abroad in the 1950s.  Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997.

Haines, G. K.  “Under the Eagle’s Wings: The Franklin Roosevelt Administration Forges an American Hemisphere.” Diplomatic History 1:4 (1977): 373-388. 

Hall, Mitchell.  “Unsell the War: Vietnam and Anti-war Advertising.”  Historian 58:1 (Autumn 1995): 69-86.

Hart, Sue. “Madison Avenue Goes to War: Patriotism in Advertising During World War II.” In Visions of War: World War II in Popular Literature and Culture, edited by M. Paul Holsinger. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Press, 1992

Jensen, Ric, and Christopher Thomas. “To What Extent Did American Corporations Publish “Brag Ads” During World War II?” Advertising & Society Review 10: 2 (2009).

Jones, John Bush.  All-Out for Victory! Magazine Advertising and the World War II Home Front.  Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2009.

Kimble, James J.  Mobilizing the Home Front: War Bonds and Domestic Propaganda.  College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2006.

Labaree, B. W. J.  “Advertising the ‘Good Society’: United States Propaganda in Great Britain During World War II.”  PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1996.

Lykins, Daniel L.  From Total War to Total Diplomacy:  The Advertising Council and the Construction of the Cold War Consensus.  Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003.

Lynch, Brad.  “Ad Council Marks 50 Years of Crusades.”  Media History Digest 12:1 (Spring-Summer 1992): 52-58.

McGinnin, John V.  “The Advertising Council and the Cold War.” Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1991.

Melillo, Wendy.  “A Keg of Dynamite and You’re Sitting on It: An Analysis of the Ad Council’s Atomic Energy Campaign.”  Journalism History 38:4 (Winter 2013): 233-242.

Meyerhoff, Arthur F.  The Strategy of Persuasion: The Use of Advertising Skills in Fighting the Cold War.  New York: Coward-McCann, 1965.

Petrulis, Jason. “America the Brand: Advertising the American Way.”  PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 2010.

Pimlott, J.A.R.  “Public Service Advertising: The Advertising Council.” Public Opinion Quarterly 12:2 (Summer 1948): 209-219. 

Pope, Daniel. “The Advertising Industry and World War I.” Public Historian 2 (Spring 1980): 4-25.

    This article examines the impact of the First World War on the newly established advertising industry in the United States.  For the first time, many large-scale advertisers were engaged in wartime production and were not producing for the consumer market.  How would the advertising industry respond to this lack of demand for its services?  The answer was institutional advertising that made use of war themes to assist in the propaganda war.  Concurrently, these ads kept brand names fresh in consumers’ minds and linked them with the successful and popular war effort.  The industry also benefited when the federal government, though the Committee on Public Information, established a Division of Advertising to harness the power of advertising for the sale of war bonds, recruitment, and other wartime tasks.  This legitimization, added to increasing rather than decreasing agency billings, made World War I a profitable time for advertisers, enhanced their standing in the American economy, and provided a useful model that would emerge as the War Advertising Council in 1942.   By war’s end, according to Pope, advertising had clearly affixed itself to “the American Way” and became a key component of the working of democratic capitalism.

Powel, Harford.  “What the War Has Done for Advertising.” Public Opinion Quarterly 6:2 (Summer 1942): 195-203.

Rabe, Robert A.  “Fighting to the Finish: The War Advertising Council, the ‘Beat Japan’ Campaigns, and American Public Opinion at the End of World War II.”  MA thesis, University of Wisconsin, 2001.

     This thesis looks at the role played by the WAC during the final year of World War II.  The WAC was formed to a large degree to promote the advertising industry as a good corporate citizen, doing its part in the war effort, and to forestall unfavorable tax policies or government oversight of advertising.  WAC worked directly with the Office of War Information, the US military, and other government agencies to plan and execute large-scale advertising campaigns for government programs, volunteer recruitment, conservation, and other things.  Its goal was “a war message in every ad.”  As 1944 came to a close, many Americans anticipated the coming end of the war and many advertisers began to place ads for postwar products that would begin to meet the pent up demand caused by war shortages and rationing.  The WAC, although also anxious to direct postwar markets, promote consumption and influence the debate over reconversion, was aware as a PR front that the industry had to be careful not to jump the gun.  A core group in the WAC, including Thomas D’Arcy Brophy of Kenyon & Eckhardt, urged a widespread campaign to refocus the nation’s attention on the war effort, which he believed was lagging, and turn people’s thoughts to the coming battles in the Pacific against Japan.  Working with the OWI and the military, the WAC crafted a whole series of print and non-print ads, many based on guilt or scare tactics, that were placed in American newspapers and magazines and other visible places during 1945.  The paper argues that the strong message of guilt and constant warnings about the difficulties and sacrifices of the Pacific war contained in these ads played a role in making Americans more likely to accept any means, including weapons of mass destruction and indiscriminant bombing of civilians, to end the war with the least possible cost.  Research for this thesis was conducted at the Advertising Council archive at the University of Illinois and the J. Walter Thompson collection at Duke University.

Rosenberg, Emily S. “Consuming Women: Images of Americanization in the American Century.” Diplomatic History 23 (Summer 1999): 479-497.

Spring, Dawn. “Selling Brand America: The Advertising Council and the ‘Invisible Hand’ of Free Enterprise, 1941–1961.” PhD dissertation, University of Cincinnati, 2009.

Spring, Dawn.  Advertising in the Age of Persuasion: Building Brand America, 1941-1961.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Stole, Inger L. “Selling Advertising: The U.S. Advertising Industry and Its Public Relations Activities, 1932-1945.” Ph.D. dissertation.  University of Wisconsin- Madison, 1998.

Stole, Inger L.  “Persuasion, Patriotism, and PR: US Advertising in the Second World War.”  Journal of Historical Research in Marketing 5:1 (2013): 27-46. 

Stole, Inger.  “Advertising America: Official Propaganda and the U.S. Promotional Industries, 1946-1950.” Journalism & Communication Monographs 23:1 (Spring 2021): 4-63.  

Storer, Lousie K.  “Military and Nationalist Themes in Wartime American Consumer Advertising.” Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1971.

Tansey, R., and M.R. Hyman.  “Ethical Judgments about Wartime Ads Depicting Combat.” Journal of Advertising 21:3 (September 1992): 57-74.

Viser, Victor J. “Winning the Peace: American Planning for a Profitable Post-War World.” Journal of American Studies 35 (April 2001): 111-126.

Yang, Mei-ling. “Selling Patriotism: The Representation of Women in Magazine Advertising in World War II.” American Journalism  12, no. 3 (1995): 304–20.

Yang, Mei-ling.  “Creating the Kitchen Patriot: Media Promotion of Food Rationing and Nutrition Campaigns on the American Home Front During World War II.”  American Journalism 22:3 (Summer 2005): 55-75.

Young, Dannagal Goldthwaite. “Sacrifice, Consumption, and the American Way of Life: Advertising and Domestic Propaganda during World War II.” Communication Review 8 (January­March 2005): 27­52.

 Zieger, Robert H.  “The Paradox of Plenty: The Advertising Council and Post-Sputnik Crisis.” Advertising & Society Review 4:1 (2003).

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