What is Propaganda?

  • Propaganda is a specific type of message presentation aimed at serving an agenda.
  • The purpose of propaganda is ‘to spread a philosophy or point of view’.
  • The most common use of the term (historically) is in political contexts; in particular to refer to certain efforts sponsored by governments or political groups.
  • Each of the nations which participated in World War One from 1914-1918 used propaganda posters.
  • They used posters to:
  • justify their involvement
  • As a means of recruiting men
  • A way to raise money and resources to sustain the military campaign.
  • To urge conservation

Why Posters?

  • Television had not yet been invented
  • Not everyone owned or had access to a radio
  • Posters were the most effective means of getting a message across

Government Support

  • Propaganda is connected with negative emotions
  • During the Great War the governments needed money for the war effort so they focused their efforts on posters aimed at raising money from citizens for the war effort
  • Propaganda uses several Tricks to get their message across
  • Name Calling: hanging a bad label on an idea, symbolized by a thumbs down

Card Stacking

  • The Propagandist uses this technique to make the best case possible for his side and the worst for the opposing viewpoint by carefully using only those facts that support his or her side of the argument while attempting to lead the audience into accepting the facts as a conclusion. (Bias)

Band Wagon

  • Propagandists use this technique to persuade the audience to follow the crowd.
  • This device creates the impression of widespread support.
  • It reinforces the human desire to be on the winning side.


  • Propagandists use this technique to associate a respected person or someone with experience to endorse a product or cause by giving it their stamp of approval hoping that the intended audience will follow their example.

Plain Folks

  • Propagandists use this approach to convince the audience that the spokesperson is from humble origins, someone they can trust and who has their interests at heart.

Glittering Generality

  • Propagandists employ vague, sweeping statements (often slogans or simple catchphrases) using language associated with values and beliefs deeply held by the audience without providing supporting information or reason.
  • They appeal to such notions as honour, glory, love of country, desire for peace, freedom, and family values.

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