The purpose of this study is to analyze the increasingly congenial relationship between business and government that developed in the immediate post Second World War…
The purpose of this study is to analyze the increasingly congenial relationship between business and government that developed in the immediate post Second World War period. This study explores the subtle, but systematic, uses of advertising for propaganda purposes to secure American political and commercial world dominance. It locates the relationship between the US Government and the Advertising Council as key components in a strategy to blur the lines between political and commercial messages. In addition to study the relationship between the two stakeholders, the study identifies some of the implications for both.
Scholarship on the government’s postwar relationships with other organizations is relatively scant and few other scholars have focused on the advertising industry’s role in this transformation. This paper draws on trade periodicals and newspaper accounts, and relies on archival material from the Arthur W Page and the Thomas D’Arcy Brophy collections at the Wisconsin State Historical Society and the Advertising Council’s papers at the University of Illinois. Charles W. Jackson papers, located at the Harry S. Truman Library, and the papers of Office of War Mobilization and Re-conversion, deposited at the National Archives, have also been consulted.
The Advertising Council’s “Peace” and “World Trade and Travel” demonstrate an acceleration of collaboration between business and government that continued into the postwar era. It shows the government’s willingness to trade on the Advertising Council’s goodwill and to blur the lines between political and commercial messages, in what can accurately be characterized as a duplicitous manner. Key conclusion includes a willingness among Washington’s policymakers to propagandize its own citizens, a strategy that it commonly, and disparagingly, ascribed to the Soviet Union, and a Council so willing to appease Washington, that it was putting its own reputation at considerable risk.
This paper is based on a study of two campaigns (“Peace” and “World Trade and Travel”) that the Advertising Council conducted in collaboration with the US State Department. While these were the first campaigns of this nature, they were not the only ones. Additional studies of similar campaigns may add new insights.
Recent political events have brought propaganda and government collusion back on the public agenda. In an era of declining journalism credibility, rising social media and unprecedented government and commercial surveillance, it is argued that propaganda demands scholarly attention more than ever and that a historical study of how the US Government collaborated with private industry and used advertising as a propaganda smokescreen is particularly timely.
This study adds to the scholarship on advertising, PR and propaganda in several ways. First, it contributes to the understanding of the advertising industry’s important role in the planning of US international policy after the Second World War. Second, it demonstrates the increasingly congenial relationship between business and the US Government that emerged as a result. Third, it provides excellent insights into the Adverting Council’s transition from war to peacetime. The heavy reliance on archival material also brings originality and value to the study.
In its passage through the Grand Committee the Food Bill is being amended in a number of important particulars, and it is in the highest degree satisfactory that so much interest has been taken in the measure by members on both sides of the House as to lead to full and free discussion. Sir Charles Cameron, Mr. Kearley, Mr. Strachey, and other members have rendered excellent service by the introduction of various amendments; and Sir Charles Cameron is especially to be congratulated upon the success which has attended his efforts to induce the Committee to accept a number of alterations the wisdom of which cannot be doubted. The provision whereby local authorities will be compelled to appoint Public Analysts, and compelled to put the Acts in force in a proper manner, and the requirement that analysts shall furnish proofs of competence of a satisfactory character to the Local Government Board, will, it cannot be doubted, be productive of good results. The fact that the Local Government Board is to be given joint authority with the Board of Agriculture in insuring that the Acts are enforced is also an amendment of considerable importance, while other amendments upon what may perhaps be regarded as secondary points unquestionably trend in the right direction. It is, however, a matter for regret that the Government have not seen their way to introduce a decisive provision with regard to the use of preservatives, or to accept an effective amendment on this point. Under existing circumstances it should be plain that the right course to follow in regard to preservatives is to insist on full and adequate disclosure of their presence and of the amounts in which they are present. It is also a matter for regret that the Government have declined to give effect to the recommendation of the Food Products Committee as to the formation of an independent and representative Court of Reference. It is true that the Board of Agriculture are to make regulations in reference to standards, after consultation with experts or such inquiry as they think fit, and that such inquiries as the Board may make will be in the nature of consultations of some kind with a committee to be appointed by the Board. There is little doubt, however, that such a committee would probably be controlled by the Somerset House Department; and as we have already pointed out, however conscientious the personnel of this Department may be—and its conscientiousness cannot be doubted—it is not desirable in the public interest that any single purely analytical institution should exercise a controlling influence in the administration of the Acts. What is required is a Court of Reference which shall be so constituted as to command the confidence of the traders who are affected by the law as well as of all those who are concerned in its application. Further comment upon the proposed legislation must be reserved until the amended Bill is laid before the House.
This Society, originally known as “The National Pure Food Association,” has been reconstituted under the above title. The objects of the Society are to assist as far as possible in checking the widespread evils of food adulteration, for this purpose to bring about a public realisation of the admittedly serious character of food frauds, and, under expert advice, to co‐operate with constituted authority in effecting their repression. The policy of the Society is directed by a representative Council, and, the Society being thus established on an authoritative basis, cannot fail to become a powerful and valuable organisation if adequately and generously supported by the public. The governing body of the Society is constituted as follows:—
The Food Bill has emerged from the Grand Committee on Trade, and will shortly be submitted, as amended, to the House of Commons. Whatever further amendments may be introduced, the Bill, when passed into law, will but afford one more example of the impotence of repressive legislation in regard to the production and distribution of adulterated and inferior products. We do not say that the making of such laws and their enforcement are not of the highest importance in the interests of the community; their administration—feeble and inadequate as it must necessarily be—produces a valuable deterrent effect, and tends to educate public opinion and to improve commercial morality. But we say that by the very nature of those laws their working can result only in the exposure of a small portion of that which is bad without affording any indications as to that which is good, and that it is by the Control System alone that the problem can be solved. This fact has been recognised abroad, and is rapidly being recognised here. The system of Permanent Analytical Control was under discussion at the International Congress of Applied Chemistry, held at Brussels in 1894, and at the International Congress of Hygiene at Budapest in 1895, and the facts and explanations put forward have resulted in the introduction of the system into various countries. The establishment of this system in any country must be regarded as the most practical and effective method of ensuring the supply of good and genuine articles, and affords the only means through which public confidence can be ensured.
What proof have the public, independent of the assertions of the makers, that all the firms whose products are sold indifferently by the shopkeepers use only the best materials; or, indeed, that a large number of the articles sold are not mixtures more or less objectionable or fraudulent ? This, in effect, is the question put by a writer in a West of England newspaper, and it might be used as a text upon which to write a lengthy homily on the adulteration question and on the astonishing gullibility of the public. As a matter of fact the only evidence of the character and quality of food and other products, in regard to which there is no independent guarantee, is that which is afforded by the standing of the makers, and to some extent of the firms which offer them for sale. And this evidence cannot, under any circumstances, be looked upon as constituting proof. The startling allegations so commonly put forward by advertisers with respect to their wares, while they may be ineffective in so far as thinking people are concerned, must nevertheless be found pecuniarily advantageous since the expense involved in placing them under the eyes of the public would otherwise hardly be incurred. Many of these advertised allegations are, of course, entirely unjustifiable, or are incapable of proof. It may be hoped that the lavish manner in which they are set out, and their very extravagance, may, in time, result in producing a general effect not contemplated by the advertisers. In the meantime it cannot be too often pointed out that proof, such as that which is required for the satisfaction of the retailer and for the protection of the public, can only be obtained by the exercise of an independent control, and, in certain cases, by the maintenance of efficient independent inspection in addition, so that a guarantee of a character entirely different to that which may be offered, even by a firm of the highest eminence, may be supplied.
Some misconception appears to have arisen in respect to the meaning of Section 11 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1899, owing, doubtless, to the faulty punctuation of certain copies of the Act, and the Sanitary Record has done good service by calling attention to the matter. The trouble has clearly been caused by the insertion of a comma after the word “condensed” in certain copies of the Act, and the non‐insertion of this comma in other copies. The words of the section, as printed by the Sanitary Record, are as follows: “Every tin or other receptacle containing condensed, separated or skimmed milk must bear a label clearly visible to the purchaser on which the words ‘Machine‐skimmed Milk,’ or ‘Skimmed Milk,’ as the case may require, are printed in large and legible type.”
The latest information from the magazine chemist is extremely valuable. He has dealt with milk‐adulteration and how it is done. His advice, if followed, might, however, speedily bring the manipulating dealer before a magistrate, since the learned writer's recipe is to take a milk having a specific gravity of 1030, and skim it until the gravity is raised to 1036; then add 20 per cent. of water, so that the gravity may be reduced to 1030, and the thing is done. The advice to serve as “fresh from the cow,” preferably in a well‐battered milk‐measure, might perhaps have been added to this analytical gem.
The question has been recently raised as to how far the operation of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts of 1875, 1879, and 1899, and the Margarine Act, 1887, is affected by the Act 29 Charles II., cap. 7, “for the better observation of the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday.” At first sight it would seem a palpable absurdity to suppose that a man could escape the penalties of one offence because he has committed another breach of the law at the same time, and in this respect law and common‐sense are, broadly speaking, in agreement; yet there are one or two cases in which at least some show of argument can be brought forward in favour of the opposite contention.
The great difficulties which attach to the fixing of legal standards of composition for food products have now to be grappled with by the Departmental Committee appointed by the Board of Agriculture to consider and determine what regulations should be made by the Board, under Section 4 of the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1899, with respect to the composition of butter. As we predicted in regard to the labours of the Milk and Cream Standards Committee, so we predict now that the Butter Committee will be unable to do more than to recommend standards and limits, which, while they will make for the protection of the public against the sale of grossly adulterated articles, will certainly not in any way insure the sale of butter of really satisfactory, or even of fair, composition. Standards and limits established by law for the purposes of the administration of criminal Acts of Parliament must of necessity be such as to legalise the sale of products of a most inferior character, to which the term “genuine” may still by law be applied as well as to legalise the sale of adulterated and sophisticated products so prepared as to come within the four corners of the law. It is, of course, an obvious necessity that official standards and limits should be established, and the Board of Agriculture are to be congratulated upon the manner in which they are endeavouring to deal with these extremely knotty problems; but it is important that misconception on the part of the public and the trade with respect to the effect of the regulations to be made should be as far as possible prevented. All that can be hoped for is that the conclusions at which the Committee may find themselves compelled to arrive will not be such as to place too high and too obvious a premium upon the sale of those inferior and scientifically‐adulterated products which are placed in such enormous quantities on the food market.
IN order to be able to discriminate with certainty between butter and such margarine as is sold in England, it is necessary to carry out two or three elaborate and delicate chemical processes. But there has always been a craving by the public for some simple method of determining the genuineness of butter by means of which the necessary trouble could be dispensed with. It has been suggested that such easy detection would be possible if all margarine bought and sold in England were to be manufactured with some distinctive colouring added—light‐blue, for instance—or were to contain a small amount of phenolphthalein, so that the addition of a drop of a solution of caustic potash to a suspected sample would cause it to become pink if it were margarine, while nothing would occur if it were genuine butter. These methods, which have been put forward seriously, will be found on consideration to be unnecessary, and, indeed, absurd.