What is propaganda?

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The Use of Posters as Propaganda

Posters attract attention and convey a message. Using slogans, art work, photographs and text they can be a powerful means of communication

The turn of the 20th century was the ‘golden age’ of poster design and it was during World War One that the poster reached its peak importance as a medium of communication.

British governments used posters to -

  • recruit men and women for the Armed Services

  • maintain morale and public support for the war effort on the Home Front

  • help raise funds

  • demonise the enemy

Beware. By G Lacoste, c.1939. (RNM)
Beware. By G Lacoste, c.1939. (RNM)

The Government used the poster as a method of propaganda even more widely in World War Two. But there were some notable changes in design styles and messages - for example German and Japanese forces were less directly criticised than in World War One.

At the start of the War in September 1939 the Government formed the Ministry of Information (MOI). This acted as the central government department responsible for publicity and propaganda.

It controlled news and press censorship and home and overseas publicity. Under the direction of the MOI, designers and artists produced many now famous posters to support even more campaigns than in the previous conflict.

Memorable slogans such as ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ and ‘Dig for Victory’ entered the public consciousness.

Watch Your Talk For His Sake. 1939. (RNM)
Watch Your Talk For His Sake. 1939. (RNM)