by Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy
Part 2 - Business and government solidarity
In 1942, a group of advertising and industry executives created the War Advertising Council, to promote the war effort. The government compensated the companies that created or donated ads by allowing them to deduct some of their costs from their taxable incomes.
Renamed the Ad Council in 1943, the organization applied the same wartime persuasive techniques of advertising and psychological manipulation during the Cold War years, the post-war period when the geopolitical rivalry between the U.S., the USSR and their respective allies raged. One of their goals: promoting the virtues of capitalism and free enterprise in America while simultaneously demonizing the alternative – socialism – which was often conflated with communism.
Government propaganda at home portrayed the communist USSR as godless, tyrannical and antithetical to individual freedoms. As a counterpoint, America became everything the Soviet Union was not.
This link between capitalism and American national identity was advertised through a sophisticated, corporate effort as efficient and ubiquitous as state-driven propaganda behind the Iron Curtain.
The campaigns used the ideological divisions of the Cold War to emphasize the relevance of their message. In a 1948 report, the Ad Council explained its goal to the public: “The world today is engaged in a colossal struggle to determine whether freedom or statism will dominate.”