Advertising is a paid, persuasive form of communicating a message that attempts to influence the buying behavior or thought patterns of consumers. Advertisements are also a sign of the times, reflecting what consumers find attractive or influential. Throughout modern history advertising has played a role in idealizing favored groups, and dehumanizing or stereotyping disfavored groups.
The following advertisements ran in a special issue of a leading German weekly magazine (Illustrierte Zeitung Leipzig: Sonderausgabe 1944, Der europäische Mensch) during the height of World War II in Nazi Germany. Each advertisement depicts a Nazi ideal, or refers to a Nazi goal.
Focke-Wulf has been building airplanes for 20 years.
We join in the vastly increased use of labor and technology in the German aircraft industry. We are thus helping to solve the great tasks of the day, the fulfillment of which will bring about a New Order in Europe.
After the victorious end to this war for European self-determination, we will return to peacetime production. Using the knowledge we have gained, as well as our proven productivity, we will build better planes to meet the high expectations of coming European air traffic.
One of the main goals of the Nazi regime was to increase employment, but this text could also be interpreted as a reference to the slave labor provided by the concentration camp inmates. The text asserts that Germany would win the war and become the dominant economic power within Europe. The visual images used are the swastika and eagle symbol of the Third Reich.
On the roads of Europe, German Ford trucks testify to the work of German industry. The agile, reliable and easy to maintain Ford truck will be a welcome help in solving the major tasks that await our continent after the war.
The text of this ad assumes German domination of the continent of Europe and reflects the supposed superiority of German products and people. The ad also visually depicts Greek ruins theme consistent with Hitler's idealization of ancient, vast, and powerful empires.
German children: Europe's future inventors!
While courageous men are fighting on the battlefields for the victory that will crown a happy and united Europe, the German home front is already working today on plans to benefit the freed peoples. German youth are preparing for the great tasks of reconstruction and peace. They tinker and build models, engaging in guided and creative learning. Whether it is in shop class at school, evenings at home, or while participating in youth organizations, UHU is everywhere. A special glue developed by the German firm Kunststoff-Chemie, it is in demand as a dependable product.
This ad reinforces the belief that the Germans were in fact liberating Europe, and that Germany would
A Picture of Peace
With their peaceful work, each LANZ-tractor, LANZ-thrasher, and LANZ-harvesting machine helps to guarantee the nutrition of Europe. Our agricultural technology is already showing the way to what will happen when peace comes.
This advertisement reflects the Nazi ideal of Germans nourishing themselves from the Fatherland, getting back to a basic way of life consisting of hard work. It also refers to the German domination of Europe and characterizes Germany as the provider for the rest of Europe. The ad visually depicts an idyllic German countryside, with two farmers diligently laboring.
Other examples of popular advertising that dehumanize disfavored groups can be seen throughout the world. One familiar example is from the Jim Crow era in the United States, which extended from the mid-1870s to the mid-1960s. Many racist forms of advertising served to justify prejudice and discrimination against African Americans. The Aunt Jemima trademark, introduced in 1893 and based on an actual former slave, portrays a black "Mammy" in a kerchief as slow-witted, fat, and ugly. Childlike, subhuman portrayals such as this came to justify the denial of civil rights to blacks and supported the common misconception that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites.
SEE ALSOArt as Propaganda; Art as Representation; Deception, Perpetrators; Incitement; Propaganda; Television
Advertising Age. "The Advertising Century." Available from http://www.adage.com/century/icon07.html.
Calvin University. "German Propaganda Archive." Available from .
Davis, Ronald L. F. "Popular Art and Racism: Embedding Racial Stereotypes in the American Mindsetim Crow and Popular Culture." Ph.D. diss. Available from .
Greenspan, L., and C. Levitt, eds. (1993). Under the Shadow of Weimar. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers.
Kressel, Neil J. (1996). Mass Hate. New York: Plenum Press.
Amy W. Leith
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