"Selling" the War

Video Introduction

A color poster craze swept Europe and the United States during the 1890's. New color printing techniques brought life to magazines and posters. It quickly became evident that color posters could help sell and make popular a variety of products.

Governments soon realized that posters might also be used to "sell" patriotism and other ideas during wartime. Artists from many nations created thousands of posters during World War I. For example, posters were drawn to encourage people to join the army, buy war bonds, conserve energy, help the wounded, be on the lookout for spies, and so on.

Many posters created by governments contained propaganda, which is information presented to favor or damage a particular point of view. Nations used propaganda in many forms to further their own causes and to work against their enemies.

The war posters of each nation appealed to different emotions. However, all tried to create a sense of patriotism for their own country. It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of wartime posters in getting their messages across to the people. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that posters aided the propaganda efforts of many nations during World War I.