Propaganda surrounds us every day in ways we would least expect it. From social media outlets to advertising on the television we are constantly confronted with many images of propaganda that are attempting to convey specific messages. When I think of propaganda I think of the posters and radio advertising that the government used to recruit for the coming of World War I. These types of campaigns were targeted towards people who had strong beliefs for their country and wanted to join the military in a time of need when America was hoping its citizens would step up for a greater cause. The most famous poster that comes to mind is Uncle Sam’s “I Want You” campaign that shows a man famously known as Uncle Sam pointing to the observer of the poster attempting to convince them that the military wants them to join.
This poster has become iconic throughout the last 100 years because it is a poster that conveys pride for America by helping Uncle Sam in joining the armed forces. This type of material is different compared to propaganda for recruiting nowadays in many ways. I have included a side by side comparison of the two images that the army has used to recruit people for wars throughout the last 100 years. The most recent one shows a group of people with the phrase “join the team that makes a difference” whereas you have Uncle Sam in the World War I era poster pointing at you and telling you that he wants you. These two messages are different in that the most recent one is playing with your emotional appeal by taking about “making a difference” whereas the older one includes Uncle Sam poster being more direct in getting straight to the point.
The picture of a team together in military apparel hits our emotional senses because as humans we strive to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This message is subtle but plays into our emotions because it hits an area that we as humans value. The values that we hold in place have a strong lean towards a sense of belonging. If you look back on history the most successful propaganda campaigns and speeches reached crowds on an emotional level. People want to become involved with something that they feel like they can connect with on a deeper level. The United States army has adapted their recruiting campaign in a way that they hit this need for belonging. This form of propaganda forces us as individuals to question our morals and beliefs of what we truly want because it is now playing with our psychological side.
Propaganda is something that can help get a certain point across to large amounts of people. Without it many large events that have taken place in history would not have come about the way they have without it. In an era that technology is extremely prevalent we are faced with different forms of propaganda every day that convey specific messages attempting to question our morals and opinions. By looking back on the Uncle Sam propaganda that the United States used in the beginning of World War I we are able to see the ideals that certain Americans held at the time. These ideals included strong feelings of patriotism for one’s country and helping the cause (Uncle Sam). Propaganda today is slightly different in that it plays with our emotional side, showing us images and phrases that appeal to our wants and desires within the world. Instead of being more direct like the propaganda 100 years ago, the posters, radio ads, etc. hit us on a deeper level that forces us to question what we believe and if the message is something that we should strongly consider. Looking back on the last 100 years it is very evident that propaganda has evolved into something that reaches everyone on a much deeper level forcing it to become that much more realistic within our own society.
Brooke Ripley, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland is currently a senior Sports Management major at Old Dominion University. Along with her academic interests, Brooke is a member of the varsity rowing team and has received honors such as All Big 12 Academic Team and Commissioner’s Honor Roll for Conference USA. Brooke is passionate about sports and intends to acquire a masters in Sports Management after graduation from her undergraduate career. She hopes to someday pursue a career as a collegiate rowing coach in the sports industry.