Advertising and Propaganda

Thinking about the differences between advertising and Propaganda this week was really interesting. There are some similarities but one of the key differences that we talked about was where the information comes from. Propaganda tending to come from the government and advertising tending to be associated with corporations.

The effectiveness of propaganda seems to be dependent on who is pushing the information and how wide-spread it can be come. We were discussing in class whether or not propaganda for frugality would work in America today as it did during war-time efforts. I think the key point here is that it would have to be something that the government was behind and as we discussed in class, there would not be a reason for them to push that agenda right now as our economy is based off of consumerism. So instead of getting messages about frugality, we get propaganda more about how to shop and how to save but it is still focused on spending. All that aside, propaganda campaigns have proven to be really effective and I think if the government had a reason to promote frugality and actually did it, that it would be just as effective today as it was in the past. Frugality is not “saving” money necessarily or spending “differently”, it is re-using, using what you have, re-purposing, fixing things rather than throwing away, gardening, recycling, driving less, etc etc. There may be aspects of frugality focused on how to spend money but the core of this is going to be focused in these other areas. I think the key here would be the government putting out propaganda explaining to people why they are helping just as they did in the past which would appeal to people on an emotional level. I do think it would take some more time and extra persuading as people are really used to having what they want on demand now, but I could still see it being effective but only if it came from an authoritative source, not just from someone’s instagram account.

I do think COVID is a great example of how people initially respond when things they are normally entitled to are taken away. I worked as a server throughout the pandemic and I saw some truly outlandish behavior from the public when they couldn’t have what they were used to having. I think anyone working with the public during covid would have experienced this. In a lot of ways it brought out the worst in people, but that is also a very sudden shift and, at least to me, doesn’t have much to do with frugality. It was more like “go spend your money” but you cannot have “this, this, and this”.

I remember hearing about my great-grandmother and how she would re-use items such as foil and plastic bags since living through the great depression. She never wanted to purchase new things and I recall one story about a set of dinner plates she had. The plates no longer appealed to her but she refused to get rid of them without having a reason to and my great grandfather literally threw them out of the window so that they would break and she would get new ones. Pretty dramatic sounding over some plates, but I think it is interesting how the way she had to live continued to impact her life long after the depression was over and many people were returning to consumerism.

One Reply to “Advertising and Propaganda”

  1. Ruth I agree about how you said propaganda its effective based on the people that are pushing the information. You also have to take into account the emotion that invokes. This could either be fear or something totally different.

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