The best definition of Propaganda I can find is given in the site :

It says, ‘Propaganda is most well known in the form of war posters. But at its core, it is a mode of communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Although propaganda is often used to manipulate human emotions by displaying facts selectively, it can also be very effective at conveying messages and hence can be used in web design, too.’

The power of the poster is evident in Propaganda, the poster has always been and still continues to have a large impact in shaping attitudes towards wars and such like.

War recruitment is of course not the only use of a Propaganda poster, the book ‘The Power of the Poster’ refers to ‘the history of the propaganda poster has deep roots. The tradition of the impertinent political cartoon propped in a bookseller’s window or the typographic call to arms posted in town and village on the eve of war are often described as antecedents of the modern propaganda poster.’

This poster is a commemoration of the murdered hero of the French Revolution, the left – wing journalist Jean – Paul Marat, the National Convention requested that a number of engravings be made of his image in death for circulation throughout France to record his noble sacrifice. Marat was reinvented as a kind of secular saint: children were taught in school to make the sign of cross at his name. So we can assume that the aim of this poster was to promote the view of Marat in this light.


‘The Power of the Poster’ argues that ‘the propaganda poster as we recognise it today was the product of modern life.’ By this it means that the poster really took off due to the refinement of the chromo – lithographic printing in the 1840s, which allowed colourful posters combining vivid images and exhortatory text, to be printed in thousands of copies. The potential of the lithographic poster also relied on the increasing concentration of people in urban environments – viewers  who could consume the same images and, it was envisaged, might be come to hold the same views.’

The poster thrived because it became a popular and successful way of reaching people, the improved printing techniques meant that the poster was a lot better at visually communicating a message in an eye catching way. The book continues to mention how the modern propaganda oyster was the product of changing political conditions in much of Europe and the United States of America, the last decades of the nineteenth century saw the transformation of the political constitution, a new relationship formed between those who ruled and those who were being ruled over, they became more dependent on each other, the rulers seeked the approval of those who were ruled over. The book explains this view by saying, ‘Extending the suffrage for most males in many states, including the United Kingdom in 1867 and 1884, the USA in 1867 and France in 1875, for example, meant that the authority had increasingly to take into account the views of the people and, when it could, shape those opinions to its requirements to secure loyalty and even obedience.’ Propaganda posters became important because there became a reason for them, previously society was ruled by one person and other people’s opinions didn’t make any contribution or have any significance in running the country or state, therefore this change in politics meant that now people’s opinions mattered, the government now needed to control the opinion of their subjects or else they could face revolt of some sort and be forced to change the way they rule. It is as this time that we also see the emergence of flyers being used to promote political opinion.

Examples of these political posters are shown below:

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Probably some of the most famous Propaganda poster are war recruitment posters.

Take for example the iconic ‘Your Country Needs You’, this is probably one of the most well-known propaganda posters ever to be produced, even now you still see posters inspired by the same theme, someone pointing with the caption, ‘We Need You’. The original poster (shown below) is Alfred Leete’s characterization of Lord Kitchener, it was produced for WW1 in 1914 in order to encourage people to enlist. I actually read an article that says that actually this poster had very little impact in helping the war effort, it’s funny how despite this having a wide impact it has become the most well known propaganda poster related to WW1!

The impact of this propaganda poster could be argued was not actually at the time it was released but after that. The influence of this poster was that it inspired so many other propaganda campaigns in the future.




This poster is said to have influenced the American recruitment poster featuring Uncle Sam in the same pose produced in 1917 with a similar caption of ‘I Want You.’


This site : remarks that the poster above was the “Most Famous Poster in the World.” It is said to have had 4 million copies produced and therefore we can assume that it in face had a much greater influence than that of the ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster.


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