Shocking Examples of American Propaganda

Propaganda has been a useful tool for many decades in countries around the world. While many people think of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as the main users of propaganda, it has also been used fairly consistently right here in the good ole USA. There is a wide range of times that the USA has used propaganda in an attempt to try and influence the public. From war to political elections, American propaganda is still alive and kicking in modern times. To illustrate this point here are some of the more shocking examples of times that propaganda has been used in America. Slide #10 is particularly shocking to see.

Uncle Sam Wants You


Source: canada

This is without a doubt one of the most famous pieces of American propaganda and most Americans must have seen it at least once in their lives. It was a poster used to convince citizens to join the Army and was posted millions of times. Check out the 15th entry for another extremely famous piece of American propaganda.

Mickey Mouse


Source: pinterest

This is a classic example of people in power using fun and recognizable figures to try and relate more to the public. Here, they use the iconic Mickey Mouse in order to try and convince people to be more patriotic, when there is really nothing relating the two things together on any level.

Buy War Bonds


Source: designschool

Instructing people to buy war-time bonds was an incredibly popular tactic of the USA during major times of war. This particular poster shows that if you don’t financially support the war, bad things will happen to you and your family. They were playing off the fears of parents, and it worked pretty well.

Join the Submarine Service


Source: designschool

Explaining to people the benefits of doing something is one of the best tactics to get them to do it. This nifty little poster not-so-subtly hinted that if you join the submarine service, women will automatically flock to you. The next entry also talks about a group that makes their living in the water.

Someone Talked


Source: designschool

This poster was created during World War II and was developed to try and keep people from revealing information about the Navy, and talking about the war in general (as spies might hear). It shows a man in the water, scolding someone for talking which led his ship to be destroyed and left him drowning.

We Can Do It


Source: theatlantic

This is one of the most famous examples of wartime propaganda in the USA. This advertisement was used to promote feminism and other social issues as it showed a powerful woman, named Rosie the Riveter. It actually became popular as a collector’s item and powerful movement message years after it was first used in the second World War.

For Your Country’s Sake


Source: designschool

This poster looked to get women to volunteer and join the war. It was exceedingly common for men to enlist, but not women and they hoped to change that fact. This poster showed women looking stoic and powerful and looking ahead to a greater country for themselves and their families.

Keep Cool with Coolidge


Source: designschool

This is a famous example of propaganda that wasn’t used to support the war, but instead, was used to support someone running for President. Calvin Coolidge was running for office in 1924 and used this poster to show that he could “steer the country” in the right direction and was the right man for the job. Check out the final entry for another similar use for propaganda.

Knit Your Bit


Source: designschool

The American Red Cross put this poster out to encourage women to get out there and “knit their bit.” They wanted women to knit socks for the soldiers at war, even though all military gear was built in factories. The poster was more about getting people invested and involved in the war efforts.

You Never Know


Source: designschool

This is a piece of propaganda that spread like wild fire. During the war (and even after) citizens in the USA were extremely scared and worried about spies. And this poster basically told people to never trust who you are talking to you, as you never really know if they are friend or foe.

Get a War Job


Source: designschool

With tens of thousands of men leaving their families to go to war, there were many military wives left at home. This poster looked to take advantage of their emotions and loneliness and encouraged them to go out and get a job to help the efforts of war and pass the time. The next entry also played off wartime emotions.

Money or a Life


Source: designschool

This was a cheap and emotional tug on the heart strings by the creators of this poster. It illustrates that if you choose to not donate your money to the military and their efforts, that you are directly responsible for the death of an American soldier, which was obviously not the case.

Grow a Garden


Source: designschool

This was a poster created for the United States Food Administration way back in 1918 and looked to encourage families to grow their own gardens in order to help conserve food during World War I. These gardens were often dubbed Victory Gardens, as they were supposed to be able to bring victory to the USA since there would be no food shortage.

America Under Communism


Source: designschool

This looks more like the cover of a comic book than a propaganda poster. The poster illustrated what “tomorrow” could look like if communism took over (complete with burning flag) and gained popularity in America. Once again, this is evidence of using fear mongering to try and influence the thoughts of the public.

Women Can Vote


Source: designschool

It really is crazy that not even 100 years ago, women could not vote in the United States. This poster looked to spread the message that women could now vote and that they should exercise that right and voice their opinions in a way they never could in the past.

Wake Up America


Source: designschool

This World War I era poster shows a woman asleep, which is a personification of the country as a whole. The poster instructed every single American cirizens to “wake up” and support the war efforts in any way they could. Whether it be conserve food or join the fight, they wanted everyone to do their part.



Source: designschool

This is a now-iconic poster that is synonymous with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. It shows him as a symbol of hope for the country and is stylized to vaguely resemble the Che Guevara poster, which is a reflection of the revolution that the younger people who supported Obama wanted to see.

Buy More War Bonds


Source: designschool

This is another example of the government using fear to try and convince people to buy war bonds and financially support the war efforts. However, this time, they used a different approach. The creator of this poster depicted the enemies as monsters who were coming to attack the children of our country.

Keep Em Firing


Source: designschool

This poster depicts two men rolling up their sleeves and getting down to work. This poster also wanted to encourage a more collaborative approach between management and staff (note the white and blue shirts to distinguish this as well) in order to keep the American troops fighting as hard as they could.

The “Working Man’s” President


Source: designschool

It is pretty clear just by looking at it, but this poster was looking to get the labor vote. It depicted Grant and Wilson as two hard-working men, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and put in the work to make the country a better place for all Americans to live.